A witness in the ongoing Rotherham sex-grooming trial told a jury yesterday that she decided to reveal her childhood abuse at the hands of Muslim men so that authorities could no longer sweep such crimes “under the carpet”.
The woman said she agreed to an interview with a journalist last year because she knew Shaun Wright — the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner at the time, who had previous served as head of children’s services on Rotherham Council — “was lying” when he said he “knew nothing about” the sex-abuse scandal.
The Times reports that the woman, who is now aged 31, told Sheffield Crown Court that she then agreed to speak to police because “maybe, finally people were listening to us”.
In February, the then Communities Secretary Eric Pickles sent a team of five commissioners to take over the executive functions of Rotherham Borough Council, saying it was suffering from “institutionalised political correctness”.
In August last year, the Jay Report found that 1,400 children had been groomed, trafficked and raped by Asian men in the town but police had failed to intervene due to fears of appearing racist.
The woman who spoke in court yesterday is one of 12 who are expected to give evidence about multiple sex crimes committed against them when they were children.
Two brothers, Arshid Hussain, 40, and Basharat Hussain, 39, deny 44 offences against 11 girls allegedly committed between 1990 and 2003. Three other men and two women also deny various charges.
The woman alleged that she was 12 when she met Basharat. She said he came with two friends to the children’s home where she lived to collect an older girl, and she agreed to go with them.
A member of staff gave Mr Hussain permission to take the girls away in his car as long as they were back by 11pm. He took them to a restaurant and then on the drive back pulled over and made her “perform a sex act” on him and his friends.
The woman said she told a care-worker who informed the police. An officer collected her the next day, but she says they never went to the police station. Instead she alleges the officer pulled over, “ripped loads of paperwork up and said I was lying”.
Also giving evidence, another woman now aged 36 said she had a baby after being raped by Arshid Hussain and another defendant, Sajid Bostan, at a pub when she was 20.
She also alleged that after the child was born, Arshid, who was nicknamed “Mad Ash”, came to her house, put a knife to her chest and threatened to take the baby to Pakistan.
She said she first met the men when she was living at a children’s home and had informed staff of their behaviour but, as with the first woman, “they just didn’t seem to want to know.”
The trial continues.