Savile abuse victim: 'NHS was blinded'

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Media caption"The smell of his cigar ... is something I'll never forget", says a woman who was abused by Jimmy Savile as a child

A woman attacked by Jimmy Savile when she was a child and recovering from an operation at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire has told the BBC how she was left traumatised.

Her family reported the incident to the hospital - although the hospital has not confirmed this - and some action appeared to have been taken to stop Savile targeting her again.

But she now regrets not taking her complaint further.

The assault took place in the 1970s when the woman was about 12 and recovering from an operation on a life-threatening wound requiring more than 140 stitches.

Savile had a bedroom at Stoke Mandeville, where his now-defunct charitable trust was based.

At that time Savile would "go anywhere he wanted to at any time and unescorted", the woman said.

'Screaming in pain'

"We were all children, we were really excited to see him. His manner was false, looking back, but at the time I was too young to realise what the true man was."

She said: "Jimmy Savile's access should never have got to the level... He did a lot of fund-raising but what was the reason behind the fund-raising? Was it to get access to us? Or people like us?

"I don't think 40 million [pounds] or whatever he raised was enough for even one child to be abused and I think the NHS were blinded."

Recalling the assault by Savile, the woman says she was naked from the waist down and on a bed as a nurse removed some of her stitches in a treatment area, located close to his room.

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She said the procedure "was hurting so much I was screaming… so loud that he stuck his head through the window of the treatment room and then he came round.

"I was so shocked I didn't know what to do. It was 'Oh, that's Jimmy Savile', so you're sort of, in one way in pain but in another way he's come to see me, you're quite pleased; you're [getting] special attention."

She says the nurse was "very junior" and it did not appear she felt it was her position to say anything. She said Savile molested her when the nurse left the room.

"He had his arms around me and I couldn't move. I was actually petrified and the smell of his cigar... and the smell of his body odour is something I'll never forget," she said.

"I felt many emotions, everything from disgust, shame, humiliation, anger, you name it. It was horrible. It affected me deeply, very badly. I'd been brought up to trust people and he was abusing that trust."

Her loud screams brought the nurse back into the room.

"His words when she came back into the room were 'Oh, I'm obviously upsetting her, I'd better go' and he shuffled off pretty quickly."

According to the woman, a number of nurses at the hospital "didn't like him but wouldn't say why".

There were also "people worshipping him and allowing him all sort of access".

She said the nurse treating her stitches believed her account but the reaction from her superior was very different.

"I told the nurse and she believed me because she hugged me. She was a lovely young nurse and got the sister in.

"She said 'Don't be so silly, don't you know who he is and what he does for the hospital?' I was upset with her, I was angry with her."

She did tell her parents about Savile when they came to the ward that night and her father made a complaint to senior staff.

Pretended to sleep

"I think he made some kind of gentleman's agreement that he [Savile] wasn't to come anywhere near me again, and I think the phrase my father used was, 'or all hell will break loose', so he never came near me after that incident and he was accompanied, which he never was before."

However, she said there was one further occasion when Savile came into her hospital room and abused a girl in the bed next to her, and she pretended to be asleep.

The woman now regrets "not being strong enough" to take further action.

"I feel really guilty, that I didn't pursue it higher, because my father wanted to, but the discussion we had was 'I'm not up to it, I don't think I can face it'."

She added: "I went in as a little girl and I came back out as someone entirely different, very mistrustful and once I got to understand really what had happened, I started to... put on weight, like a cloak, safety device, so that no-one would come near me and find me attractive."

But why does she think Savile was able to abuse so many people at hospitals?

"I think his status as a celebrity, his fund-raising abilities, completely set aside any other issues... or any other concerns, the hospital or any institution would have had because ultimately it was down to money.

"I think if the man hadn't raised the sort of money he had and had the kind of friends he had, I don't think we'd be here talking about it."

After Savile's death in October 2011, a year before allegations that he had sexually abused children were broadcast in an ITV documentary, the woman contacted the police.

"My overriding sense was, it just happened to me, I was just unlucky, that's how I dealt with it.

"But finding out so many other people have had similar experiences has been quite devastating."

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