A woman who claims she was subject to sexual abuse by VIPs as a child has waived her right to anonymity in the hope that speaking out will encourage others to come forward – and to protect herself from attempts to silence her.
Esther Baker, 32, has named a politician as one of the men who would regularly abuse her in the 1980s and 1990s, as a police officer stood guard. During interviews with Staffordshire police spanning 33 hours, in which she gave detailed and graphic evidence, Ms Baker is also understood to have named a judge, and a Lord who she alleges were among the men who abused her. She is scheduled to give a further 18 hours testimony, and police are considering taking her back to Cannock Chase, where the abuse took place.
In an interview with Sky News, Ms Baker said of the politician: “One of the core members. He was there quite often – I was one of his favourites. I used to play the piano, and he was quite taken with that … there were different houses. I would sit on his lap and he would want me to play.”
The politician is not from Staffordshire, but is from the current political era, according to Sky. Ms Baker said that she contacted police after realising who he was.
“I would know that face anywhere. I have lived with it and others in my head for over 20 years, I know every inch of him,” she said.
In a later interview with the Guardian, Ms Baker said she believed a Lord and a judge were involved as she heard their titles mentioned as the abuse was taking place. “I was brought up in a religious household and … I thought they were on God’s authority,” she said. “I knew they were important but I always thought they were more important in the church. That’s what I related it to at the time. But I knew there were ones that were more special than others.”
A small group of police officers, some in uniform, would stand guard while the alleged abuse occurred. Occasionally they would join in. One of the officers she recognised from church. On one occasion Ms Baker, who was not yet 12 years old at the time, tried to escape but was caught by one of the guards. She said he told her he was sorry, but took her back nonetheless.
Now she says she wants to speak out in order to encourage others to do the same, and for her own protection.
“I’ve spoken out because I hope witnesses will come forward,” she said. “I know what it’s like to be the first one to come out and speak about it, it’s scary but I felt almost forced to come forward to protect myself. Once it’s out there there’s no point them trying to shut me up.”
Asked whether she had a message for any other witnesses, she said: “Just that it’s time to come forward. If we all come forward then they can’t stop us now. They could back then but they can’t now if we all come forward.”
Following the Jimmy Savile scandal, more and more victims are stepping forward to tell their stories. So far more than 1,400 men have been accused of historical sex abuse crimes, including 135 entertainment stars, 76 politicians and seven sports figures. The Home Secretary has warned that those cases are just “the tip of the iceberg”. Detectives expect to have received more than 116,000 separate allegations by the end of the year.
Jon Drake, assistant chief constable of Staffordshire police has stressed the that the force has been taking very seriously Ms Bakers allegations, thanks to “the horrific nature of what we are investigating”.
He said: “Staffordshire police is in the early stages of investigating a number of very serious allegations from the 1980s and 90s. Specially trained officers are carrying out a number of interviews with the victim to build up an understanding of what took place, and her recollections of all those involved.
He confirmed that detectives were determined to thoroughly investigate any claims, regardless of the status of those accused. He said:
“To be clear, regardless of role, anyone who has been involved in criminal offences will be investigated to provide justice for the victim.
“Child abuse is a terrible crime, whenever it occurs. We are keen to hear from anyone who knows more about the allegations, or any other victim of child sexual abuse, and they can contact the police through 101, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
“In this specific case the victim has made the decision to waive her right to anonymity. Staffordshire police wants to reassure anyone who has been a victim of any form of child or sexual abuse that their anonymity will be protected.”
Ms Baker admitted that her abuse destroyed her trust in the police, but chose to overcome that in order to come forward. “I always swore I would never go near the police again – never,” she told Sky.
“I was scared because it feels like, yeah, they are going to know I have said something so the only way I can now protect myself is now to tell. I just hope others will do the same. That is the only way we are going to be safe.”