LONDON (AP) — The BBC chief says allegations about decades of sexual abuse by its longtime TV host Jimmy Savile — and the broadcaster's failure to stop him — constitute a "very grave" crisis for the organization.
Director-general George Entwistle told British lawmakers on Tuesday that it is too early to say whether sexual abuse was endemic within the broadcast company in previous decades.
But, he said, "there's no question in my mind that what we now know happened is a very, very grave matter indeed."
Entwistle's testimony before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee comes a day after the BBC aired a powerful TV documentary about the corporation's role in the expanding pedophilia scandal around Savile, who died a year ago at age 84.
Since Savile's death, scores of women and several men have come forward to say Savile — a longtime host of music and children's programs — abused them when they were children or teenagers. Police have identified more than 200 potential victims.
The BBC, one of the world's largest and most respected broadcasters, is under fire for failing to stop the abuse and for pulling an expose on Savile from TV schedules at the last minute in December.
"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 said. "This is a gravely serious matter and one cannot look back at it with anything other than horror."