I was groped on live TV by Jimmy Savile – it's destroyed my marriage and left me too scarred to ever be touched again

I was groped on live TV by Jimmy Savile – it's destroyed my marriage and left me too scarred to ever be touched again

STANDING next to Jimmy Savile on Top of the Pops, teenager Sylvia Edwards suddenly found herself crippled with horror and embarrassment.

On live television, the shameless predator openly groped her as she stood in a crowd – an assault that still haunts the 64-year-old to this day and even led to the breakdown of her marriage.


Speaking to The Sun, Sylvia, who was 18 when she appeared on the show in November 1976, says: “It still affects me now. I can't bear anyone touching me or coming up close behind me.

"I'm 64 now and I still don't like it. It makes me uncomfortable. I still think about what he did to me and it's never going to go away.

"Even when I was married I couldn't bear my husband touching me and he didn't understand why I was like that. It was one of many things that ended our marriage.

"I couldn't explain it and it's one of the reasons I'm happier being alone, I don't have to explain myself to anyone.

"These abusers don't care what they do. I want sufferers to know they can speak out."

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Sylvia is one of a number of abuse victims to speak out in Channel 5’s new documentary National Treasure, National Disgrace, which examines how depraved celebrities including Stuart Hall, Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter got away with decades of abuse.

Sickening allegations of sexual assault emerged after Savile's death in 2011, and over 300 victims came forward to testify against him.

As well as his access to children through his work on Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It, a June 2014 report found that Savile's fundraising activities at 28 NHS hospitals, including Leeds General Infirmary and Broadmoor, led to him sexually assaulting staff and patients aged between five and 75 over several decades.

Savile was brought in to host Top of the Pops from its launch in 1964, in a bid to bring a younger audience to the BBC.

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Sylvia’s assault, when Savile put his hand up her skirt, was caught on camera and footage shows her looking extremely embarrassed and struggling as she tried to move away from his unrelenting grasp. 

In a sick aside, he gloats: "A fella could get used to all this."

Sylvia says she immediately reported the assault to a member of the show's crew, who told her to "go away", saying: "That's just Jimmy Savile."

She also told her dad about the humiliating ordeal but he was convinced there was nothing she could do – and that Savile would get away with it because of his celebrity status. 

When she found the courage to speak out again in 2012, trolls suggested she enjoyed the sordid attentions of Savile because she laughed in the clip –  a reaction of shock and embarrassment. 

The Dame Janet Smith report, published in 2014, found Savile had committed 72 sexual assaults and eight rapes – including of an eight-year-old girl – at "virtually every one of the BBC premises at which he worked".

It also found the BBC had a "culture of not complaining", and an "atmosphere of fear" which prevented staff speaking out.

Sylvia says that even when she found the courage to come forward she "still felt like the solicitors didn't believe me".

"During the investigation I was asked by one if I found Savile attractive," she added. "I don't and the fact they thought that should be asked still makes me feel sick."

Sinister hospital visits left victim sickened

Sylvia is just one of the hundreds of victims of the predatory paedophile, who used his celebrity position to get away with indecently assaulting children as young as five.

Another is Pauline, who was partially paralysed from the waist down when she was selected to meet TV legend Savile at Stoke Mandeville hospital during one of his many visits.

Speaking through tears in the new documentary, Pauline – who did not want to provide her full name – said: “He bent down to my eye level and was tapping on my wheelchair.

"Then his hand was under my skirt and I just froze because by then the sensation was back in my legs. 

“This man looked in my eyes and smiled and said 'you'll be alright darling'. 

“This man acted like nothing had happened. I came there to get better, not to be violated, to be assaulted. 

“But I was too scared to say anything. I know that it wasn't my fault, but I blamed myself for two decades. How was he able to get away with it? It was really upsetting."

It is thought Savile abused at least 60 children during his visits to the Buckinghamshire hospital, including seriously ill children as young as eight.

Pauline stayed silent for 26 years until accusations about the former DJ emerged after his death in 2011.

He was never held accountable for his crimes as he died before the allegations came to light.

Attacked as teen by TV favourite

The new documentary also hears from victims of Stuart Hall, Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter as it looks at how they got away with decades of depraved abuse.

Harris often felt up the women on set for his TV shows both in Australia and England, and seemed unafraid of repercussions. 

Karen Gardener claims she was groped as a schoolgirl by Harris while carrying his bag during filming for celebrity TV show Star Games in 1977.

She said: “Everything in my veins turned to concrete. I saw it in his eyes, it was a triumph, and I absolutely knew that he had done it on purpose and he enjoyed doing it to me in front of all those people. And then he did it again.

"I thought ‘I really don’t want to be here now.’ I didn’t know what to do.

"Within about 30 minutes something else happened. The third time he even said to me ‘You’re irresistible'. Even now, it makes me feel sick.”

Harris was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison in 2014 on 12 counts of indecent assault on four female victims during the 1970s and 1980s.

Hall 'victim' speaks out

Television host Hall had no issue using his star power to try and sexually assault women. 

Vanessa Walker, who claims to be one of his previously unknown victims, decided to speak out on the documentary as she has a terminal illness.

“I was assaulted by Stuart Hall when I was 26. I want to do this interview because I'm terminally ill, and I'll never ever have a voice again,” she said. 

She met Hall in the former republic of Yugoslavia, where she had travelled to watch the filming of the international version of It’s A Knock-Out.

She ended up staying at the same hotel as the cast and crew. While she was relaxing on a sunbed outside, she claims he came over and introduced himself before attempting to assault her.

Vanessa said: "He then started to insist that he applied some tanning lotion to my back and I absolutely refused and said 'no'. That's when he significantly sexually assaulted me.

"I leapt off the end of the sunbed. I was extremely angry. He then became very remorseful and very apologetic.”

However, she claims the ordeal didn’t end there, as he followed her to her hotel room. 

“He tried to force his way in with his foot. I slammed the door very hard on his foot," she said.

"He yelped, stood back and I was able to shut the door. He just screamed outside the door. I recall sitting on the edge of the bed, simply trembling with anxiety about what he might have done to me.” 

Hall initially pleaded not guilty to the charges put against him in 2013, before eventually pleading guilty to 14 charges of indecent assault involving 13 girls aged between nine and 17 years old.

He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, but following a review it was raised to 30 months.

Hall was later sentenced to another two years and six months, following another set of convictions a year later. 

Sylvia is now hoping the documentary will encourage more victims to speak up in future.

"Nobody should get away with sexual abuse, especially not celebrities, just because they think that they've got the power and the money to push it under the carpet," she said.

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"The BBC should never have allowed that kind of thing to happen to anybody.

"I was one of the lucky ones that got it shown on live TV, which proved that he actually did it. I know it helped encourage a lot more people to come forward."

National Treasure, National Disgrace: Savile, Harris & Hall is on Channel 5 tonight at 9pm


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