“We may never know how many children were abused by former mayor Peter Jaconelli.”
That is the view of Pauline Carruthers, founder of Scarborough charity Healing Our Past Experiences, which has offered counselling and help to 11 victims of the alderman and his friend Jimmy Savile.
This week Jaconelli was stripped of his civic honours by Scarborough Council following confirmation from the police that had he been alive he would have been interviewed under caution over child sex offences.
The ice cream mogul’s offending came to light when The Scarborough News carried an interview with former councillor Geoff Evans in February 2013, who said Jaconelli tried to abuse him at his ice cream parlour in the 1960s.
Ms Carruthers said that Mr Evans’ story mirrored that of many men who she had spoken to.
She said: “I personally have dealt with about 11 men who say they were abused by Jaconelli.
“It rangers from him touching them and groping them to allegations of rape. It’s always boys. I only know about the people I have spoken to personally, we do not share information between ourselves obviously as disclosures are confidential so it is impossible to know how many victims there are.
“He got away with it for so many years, it is not inconceivable that there could be hundreds more. “The stories I hear come from people with no connection to each other and share characteristics, there are mentions of a store cupboard that you had to keep way from in case he got near you, they all come together to paint this picture of the man.”
She said his status within the town and also attitudes of the time are the reason that his victims did not speak out or go to the police.
She added: “We hear from people that they were warned by their parents to ‘watch yourself around Jaconelli, don’t be alone with him’ so if they went to his shop and something happened they would go home and they would hear ‘well what did I tell you’, many of the victims felt as though it was their fault that they had been abused.
“You have to remember that he was a high profile local person, the mayor was much more revered and people on the street were more in awe of people in office, you couldn’t say anything against somebody who was in that type of position.
“Like most perpetrators of crimes against children there were two sides to Peter Jaconelli’s, there was the caring, helpful public servant, a good councillor and a good mayor who helped people and who are nice to people, because if they weren’t nice they would not be able to get away with it. They are good at grooming children but also the parents as well.
Many of those who have spoken to HOPE, in Falsgrave Road, about being abused said they suffered from alcoholism, drug addiction and depression in the years following it.
Jaconelli died in 1999 and will never face justice for the crimes he is alleged to have committed.
The council took away his alderman status this week, and his name will be removed from the honours board at the town hall and all mentions of him as a former-mayor will cease.
Last month North Yorkshire Police said a file would have been handed over to prosecutors over child sex offences about the ice cream entrepreneur because of evidence detectives have received from several witnesses.
North Yorkshire Police also referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over the way it recorded and responded to child sex abuse allegations made about Savile and Jaconelli.
The referral also relates to whether information North Yorkshire Police held about Savile or his known associates was properly disclosed to Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, when asked to do so along with other forces in 2012, and the IPCC, in May last year.
Chief Constable Dave Jones said he ordered a review of the force’s systems to check if information on offending by Savile, Jaconelli or “their known associates and friends” had been recorded.
• For more information about HOPE and its services visit www.hopegroups.org.uk or call 01723 381811.