TODAY   |  October 27, 2012

British legend accused of abusing children

For 20 years, Jimmy Savile's children's show was a highlight of Saturday night family TV on the BBC. But now, British police say 300 people have come forward with claims that Savile abused them during his 60-year broadcasting career. NBC’s Annabel Roberts reports.

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>>> we begin this half-hour with a scandal in britain. for decades, jimmy savo was a huge star in british television . a year after he died, hundreds of people have come forward to claim he was also a sexual predator . it's causing a scandal for the bbc , one of britain's most respected news organization. more now from annabel roberts in london.

>> reporter: for 20 years, the children's show was a highlight of saturday night family tv on the bbc . he was an eccentric, a british institution , a tease with royalty, a much loved part of the establishment. even blessed by the pope. but now british police say some 300 people have come forward claiming he was a pedophile who abused them during his 60-year broadcasting career. a cub scout who appeared on his show when he was 9 told the bbc how he was allegedly abused.

>> he put his hand on my knee and started touching me, and then at the same time, he grabbed my hand and forced my hand on top of his trousers. i was absolutely petrified.

>> reporter: when confronted six years ago, he denied being an abuser.

>> i'm very boring. i don't do drugs. i don't do any of them things.

>> reporter: he died last year at the age of 85 and was mourned as a national treasure . he had raised more than $60 million for charity, much of it for hospitals where he was allowed unsupervised visits. the victims claim he used this privilege to abuse them.

>> reporter: some of the victims claim it took place on bbc premises. this woman claimed he put his hand up her skirt on a live broadcast in front of millions of viewers. last year, bbc journalists working on a report about the allegation were told unexpectedly by their bosses to stop. then a month later, a glowing tribute program about his life was broadcast, which has raised awkward questions for the bbc . the new chief executive of "the new york times" mark thompson ran the bbc at this time. there's no evidence he was involved, but he may be questioned.

>> so if i can help in any way with those inchoquiries, i will do so.

>> jimmy was knighted at buckingham palace , but as authorities investigate 300 allegations of aburabuse, his reputation has tumbled.