That Jimmy Savile was amongst the most prolific and horrific of sexual abusers of children in British history is no longer in doubt. Since his death - when he was widely lauded for his charity and TV work - hundreds of people have come forward to reveal that their own encounters with the star were actually terrifying and traumatic.
It has also been revealed that even during the peak years of his fame rumours were widely known within the media that Savile was a sexual predator - and it is alleged that Savile obtained privilege access to establishments such as hospitals and children's homes to facilitate his abuse. He also had a special room at Broadmoor - and was photographed, bizarrely, with Peter Sutcliffe. despite decades of whispered rumour, official investigations were stymied by a combination of Savile's fame, connections and status and it was only with his death that they became fully known to the public at large.
While he is dead and thus cannot be subject to a trial, the police have concluded that the volume and similarity of the reports are sufficient grounds to be certain that Savile was beyond doubt a serial sexual offender who used his position to gain access to vulnerable children (and adults) in order to visit his peculiar whims upon them.
Despite the death of the mainstream Satanic ritual abuse scare following the Cleveland scandal of the early 1990s belief in its reality lives on in the popular imagination and, apparently, in some corners of the media and psychiatry establishment. In January 2013, readers of the Daily Express found the following sensationalist titbit land on their breakfast tables:
"JIMMY SAVILE beat and raped a 12-year-old girl during a secret satanic ritual in a hospital. The perverted star wore a hooded robe and mask as he abused the terrified victim in a candle-lit basement.He also chanted “Hail Satan” in Latin as other paedophile devil worshippers joined in and assaulted the girl at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire."
The claim was related to the Express by Valeria Sinason, who was introduced to readers as the president of Institute of Psychotherapy and Disability. While her work in the field of treatment of people with disabilities may be laudable, she is notable for her belief that Satanic ritual abuse is an objectively real phenomena. Jean La Fontaine - who investigated 84 cases of alleged SRA on behalf of the Department of Health - concluded that they were not real, and said of Sinason specifically:
"It is not surprising to me that patients who are having treatment by Valerie Sinason would produce stories that echo such topical issues as the recent trial for receiving internet pornography and the publicity for the film Hannibal. There is good research that shows the "memories" of abuse are produced in and by the therapy."
In an interview with the Telegraph in 2002, La Fontaine said of Sinason:
"It's depressing to find someone who has a position at leading London hospitals who is so cut off from what research methodology is, and what rational evidence is,"
Sinason is also named by those seeking justice for Carol Myers as being responsible for creating 'false memories' of Satanic abuse during psychotherapy sessions.
Despite these officially recorded doubts, The Express happily gave space to Sinason to report the unverified (and unverifiable) claims of a psychologically disturbed woman and to help perpetuate belief in SRA among those who read the article.
Was Jimmy Savile - among his other crimes - really involved in a Satanic cult? Without further corroboration, it is unlikely we will ever really know, but we can be sure that this story will add celebrity lustre to an ongoing folk belief.