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Veteran BBC broadcaster Hall jailed for sex assaults dating back decades

AFP-JIJI

Veteran British television and radio presenter Stuart Hall was jailed for 15 months Monday after admitting to 14 charges of indecently assaulting girls as young as nine years old.

Prosecutors said the 83-year-old, who presented the hit BBC television show “It’s a Knockout” in the 1970s and 1980s, was an “opportunistic predator” who befriended his victims before assaulting them.

The abuse surfaced following a police investigation into revelations about late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, now believed to be one of Britain’s worst-ever sex offenders.

Judge Anthony Russell said during sentencing that the broadcaster was known for his “genial personality.”

“The general public now know that there is a darker side to you, one hidden from the public view until now — and a side which you were able to conceal, taking advantage of your status as a well-liked celebrity,” Russell said. “Several of these cases reveal an abuse of power by you because your status gave you an influence and standing which you abused.”

The judge noted that “nearly every victim was a child” at the time.

“The repeated sexual abuse of young children, too young to consent and in no position to resist your advances, even if the individual acts are relatively mild, is a serious crime,” he said.

Known for his florid descriptive style, scattered with allusions to literary classics, Hall was in recent years a familiar voice on BBC radio, where he gave commentary on English Premier League football.

He has not worked for the corporation since the allegations emerged.

The assaults, involving 13 victims, took place between 1967 and 1985, when he regularly appeared on television in Britain.

Hall pleaded guilty in April. A charge of rape that he denies has been allowed to stay on the file after the alleged victim said she did not want to go through a trial.

Hall’s lawyer, Crispin Aylett, said he had been arrested “as a consequence” of the Savile investigations but his crimes were nowhere near that scale.

“In the dock today is a frightened and bewildered 83-year-old man answering for the touching — no more, no less — of all of 13 — not 1,300 — victims over a quarter of a century ago,” he said.