The desperate situation in which alleged victims of a Rotherham grooming gang found themselves continues to shock as the abuse trial at Sheffield Crown Court progresses. Although some early effort was made by victims to bring matters to light, it met a wall of silence and indifference.
A 36-year-old complainant, known at trial as Girl B, who said she suffered violent beatings and repeated sexual abuse from the age of 11 told the court she tried to report what was happening to her to police and children’s home staff, but no action was taken in response, reports The Sheffield Star.
Even more gallingly, the jury trying the five men and two women accused of more than 50 charges related to child sexual exploitation offences heard her own mother failed to respond after she told her about the abuse back when it first started.
Girl B told the court from behind witness screens that she attempted to alert police to her predicament at the hands of the alleged Muslim grooming gang, but without success:
“I tried on one occasion and he said he would come back and get in touch with me.”
She said the officer, whom she named as Kenneth Dawes, never did get back to her, and she did not pursue the matter with anyone else because: “If he didn’t want to come back to me and didn’t want to take it any further, who else would?”
A complaint against the officer was said to have now been submitted.
Tahir Khan QC, the barrister representing co-defendant Arshid Hussain, 40, asked about whether she had reported the matter to the staff of the children’s home in which she lived:
“You are now saying this man [Hussain] was repeatedly abusing you, raping you and being violent to you. Did you tell the staff anything like that?”
Girl B said that she had indeed told the workers in her home, but rather than pursue the matter they said she herself was to blame, explaining:
“When I tried telling them, they just thought I was making an excuse for running away at the time.”
When the complainant was first made to have sex with Hussain at the age of 11, she says she tried to tell her mother: “I were having to do things that I didn’t want to do.” However, even the girl’s own parent failed to show appropriate concern, something Girl B put down to their not having a good relationship with one another.
Girl B did once file a complaint of a sexual nature against another person in 1995. Elaine Stapleton, a lawyer representing another co-defendant, Majid Bostan, 38, asked why she had not mentioned any other allegations against her client and others with which he was said to have been involved. The alleged victim told the court:
“I had no faith after Ken Dawes. After that I just didn’t go back.
“All I can say is once I told that officer, I told him – nothing happened. I told my mum – nothing happened. I told the care home – nothing happened.
“Why would I tell anybody else if all I’m going to be called is a promiscuous girl?”
Doubt was cast on the testimony of Girl B by Mr. Khan. He suggested her allegations of abuse by his client were “lies” that never happened, and that she has just “jumped on the bandwagon of complaints others have made” about Mr. Hussain.
For example, Mr. Khan said his client was in prison around the time when an alleged rape resulting in the birth of a child is meant to have occurred.
A third co-defendant, Sajid Bostan, accepts he had a “consensual” sexual relationship with the complainant in her early 20s but his lawyer said he denied playing any part in any abuse of her in the 1990s. David McGonigal suggested to her: “You are either making up the fact it was him or you are mistaken and it was carried out by someone else with a similar name.”
Asked by Mr. McGonigal why she had “inconsistencies” in her statements, she told him:
“I have lived with this for 20-odd years. You haven’t.
“You have been dealing with this case for seven months. You are paid to get him [Bostan] away from it, have a nice happy little life.”
She explained why she had not brought the allegations to light earlier, saying: “I wasn’t in a fit state. I had eating disorders, mental health, I tried to kill myself.
“It is only in the last six or seven years I have got better.”