The BBC's director general George Entwistle admitted to British lawmakers Tuesday that the network had suffered a "cultural problem" that allowed child molestation to occur, the Associated Press reported. At the center of the sex abuse scandal is late TV host Jimmy Savile, who is accused of molesting more than 200 potential young victims during his career. Savile died a year ago at age 84.
"There is no question that what Jimmy Savile did and the way the BBC behaved ... will raise questions of trust for us and reputation for us," Entwistle testified to British lawmakers today in the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee.
Entwistle denied accusations that he helped cover up the sex scandal. When lawmakers grilled him about the BBC's internal investigation, he added that "we are looking at between five and 10 serious allegations relating to activities over the whole period in question, the Savile period," the Belfast Telegraph reported.
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Entwistle did not "rule out" suggestions that a pedophile ring could have existed at the BBC during the peak of Savile's fame in the 70s and 80s, Reuters reported.
Bob Langley, a former reporter, recalled seeing girls as young as 12 emerging from Savile's trailer. “After they had gone he indicated to me in a nudge, nudge, wink, wink sort of way that he had just had sex with them,” Langley told the New York Times. But Langley did nothing to stop it. “Supposing I had gone to the police or to the BBC, what would have happened? The answer is nothing would have happened. He would have said it was a joke, can’t you take a joke."
Entwistle's testimony comes a day after former BBC Newsnight editor Peter Rippon stepped aside from his job. Newsnight executives are accused of killing a story that would have exposed the sex abuse accusations. Entwistle has blamed Rippon for the decision not to broadcast a Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile’s activities last year, the Independent reported.