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Jun 26, 10:33 AM EDT

BBC celebrity roamed hospitals seeking out abuse victims, ages 5 to 75, probe finds

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LONDON (AP) -- The late BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile sexually abused children as young as 5 in hospitals across Britain for decades and claimed to have abused corpses, a series of independent investigations concluded Thursday.

The findings, which cover 28 hospitals and date from the 1960s, said Savile used his access to multiple hospitals as a celebrity, volunteer and fundraiser to exploit and abuse patients and hospital workers of both sexes. Sixty people at Leeds General Infirmary, ranging in age from 5 to 75 at the time, reported being abused, and investigators reported three cases of rape.

Among the disturbing allegations were claims that Savile had abused the dead. Dr. Sue Proctor, who led the investigations at Leeds, said Savile told a staff member and a journalist that the large rings he wore were made from the "glass eyes of dead bodies."

Proctor said that although the allegations could not be verified, access to hospital mortuaries in the 1980s was "lax." In its report, Leeds hospital concluded "it is evident his interest in the mortuary was not within accepted boundaries."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt apologized on behalf of the government, saying the country shared a "deep sense of revulsion." He said he is writing to health officials to ask them to verify patient safety in light of the findings.

Savile's reputation as a popular TV personality and DJ collapsed after he died in 2011, when hundreds of witnesses and victims came forward accusing him of sexual abuse. Police have since described him as a serial sexual predator.

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