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Rotherham victim: 'I was a child and they should have stepped in...I will never forget'

Victims of the Rotherham gangs have said that the current investigations are “too late”.

Image: Child Abuse via Shutterstock

VICTIMS OF PERPETRATORS of appalling child sexual abuse in Rotherham have come forward in the past 24 hours following the publication of a damning report into how authorities handled their cases.

A 24-year-old woman, known as Emma, told BBC Today, that she had been groomed from the age of 12.

The first abuse encounter happened less than a year later when she was 13. During that year, she reported a number of rapes to police.

“I had saved all my clothes that I had been raped in and I gave them to the police but they later said they lost them. They said as there was no evidence it would be my word against his.

“These people have been left free to walk the streets and left unpunished. My parents went to the relevant services, the people who should have been able to help, and nothing was done.”

The abuse continued for another two years when her parents moved her to another country.

“I was child, you know, legally, another victim told Panorama.

“If you have to be over 16 to consent, then they should keep that in place. And if you’re not 16, then they should do something about it. There is no point in having a law there and not sticking to it.

I was a child and they should have stepped in. It is damaging. There are some things that I don’t remember but, you know, there are also things I will never forget for the rest of my life.

“No matter what is done now, and if it’s investigated now, it’s not going to change that. It was too late. It should have been stopped and prevented.”

The report from an independent investigation yesterday found that 1,400 children had been sexually exploited by gangs between 1997 and 2013 in the South Yorkshire town.

Its author, Professor Alexis Jay, described the “appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered”.

They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated.

The inquiry concluded that there had been “collective failures” by the local council and police to deal with cases involving child exploitation. This was despite numerous reports into the matter.

The report gives examples of children who had been doused in petrol, threatened with guns and made watch brutally violent rapes. The victims were also told they “would be next if they told anyone”.

Girls as young as 11 were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators, the majority of whom were of Pakistani heritage. The majority of the victims were young girls but there was also a small number of boys involved.

Sex abuse in Rotherham Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

There have been calls today for South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner to resign. PCC Shaun Wright was responsible for children’s services in the area between 2005 and 2010.

Although he has apologised for the failures of the authorities at the time, he has not offered his resignation.

There has been one resignation in the past 24 hours – that of Rotherham Council leader Roger Stone. However, it has also emerged that no council employees will face disciplinary action because there is not enough evidence to prosecute.

Sex abuse in Rotherham Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Council who has stepped down with immediate effect. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Politicians in the UK are not happy with the situation.

Some MPs have said social workers involved in the Rotherham failings should not be allowed care for children.

“A social worker responsible for protecting vulnerable children, to turn a blind eye to a 12-year-old having sexual relationships with a stranger twice, three times her age, and to say that was consensual sex and to do nothing about it – that person has absolutely no place in anything to do with vulnerable children,” said former children’s minister Tim Loughton.

Police apology

South Yorkshire Police has issued an “unreserved apology” to the victims of child sexual exploitation who “did not receive the level of service they should be able to expect from their local police force”.

In the past 12 months, 15 people have been prosecuted or charged with related offences, including 44-year-old Lee Crutchley who was jailed for 15 years for sexual offences against young girls dating back 20 years.

Last month, Rotherham man David Ray, 44, was jailed for 11-and-a-half years after being found guilty of sexual activity with a girl when she was between 14 and 18 years old.

There are currently 32 live investigations ongoing.

“Our recent cases have involved both female and male offenders and people from a wide range of different backgrounds including British, Pakistani and Roma Slovak.  We will go wherever the evidence takes us. Equally we find that the victims too can be from any background, there is no ‘typical victim’,” District Commander for Rotherham, Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin added in the statement.

“I accept that our recent successes in tackling CSE will not heal the pain of those victims who have been let down but we continue to deal with historic investigations with great success and will continue to thoroughly investigate any new evidence available to us.”

Harwin also called on victims who had not yet come forward to do so with confidence that they will be taken seriously.

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