Jimmy Savile's relatives have insisted they knew nothing of his "darker side" as they expressed their sorrow for his alleged victims.
In the family's first major reaction to the scandal, the Jim'll Fix It star's nephew Roger Foster released a lengthy statement charting their increasing horror at the revelations about his life.
Mr Foster, who helped organise Savile's funeral last year, tells how the family had been "proud of his achievements" but that this turned to shock as they were hit by the "firestorm of allegations".
He insisted the family had known nothing about this side of the DJ and television presenter and could not believe the claims when they emerged at the start of this month.
Mr Foster said he watched the ITV documentary which first exposed Savile as an alleged abuser "with horror". "This wasn't the man we knew and loved," he said.
As the allegations kept multiplying, the family "began to have doubts as to our own feeling towards our uncle", the retired deputy headteacher said.
"How could the person we thought we knew and loved do such a thing", he asked, and questioned how someone who did so much for charity would "risk it all doing indecent criminal acts".
As the "outrage" intensified, the family decided it had to remove the elaborate headstone on Savile's grave to avoid it becoming a target for vandals.
"The decision was a difficult one to make but we knew it was the right one," Mr Foster said.
The statement, published by the Yorkshire Post, continues: "We recognise that even our own despair and sadness does not compare to that felt by the victims.
"Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who have suffered from every kind of abuse over so many years and we offer our deepest sympathy in what must have been a terrible time for all of them."
The family acknowledged the "courage" it has taken for Savile's alleged victims to speak out know and said they understand why they did not do so sooner.
"Our hearts go out to them and we offer them our sympathy and understanding in their anguish," the relatives said. "Where will it all end? Who knows? The repercussions of this scandal are enormous."