A gang of 12 mostly-Muslim men from the Rotherham area have appeared in court to face 45 sexual abuse offences against eight girls under the age of 16.
The men are accused of rape, indecent assault, the supply of controlled drugs, and false imprisonment as part of Operation Stovewood, which was set up in the wake of the Rotherham grooming gang scandal.
The men, all aged between 33 and 38, allegedly committed the crimes between 1998 and 2003, The Star reports.
Amjal Rafiq, 38, Nabeel Kurshid, 34, Iqlak Yousaf, 33, Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, 36, Tanweer Ali, 36, Aftab Hussain, 38, and Abid Saddiq, 36, all appeared at Sheffield Magistrates Court Wednesday.
They were joined by co-defendants Sharaz Hussain, 33, Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, 38, Mohammed Ashan, 33, Masaeud Malik, 33, and Waseem Khaliq, 33.
Nine of them were granted bail, while Mr. Ashan, Mr. Malik, and Mr. Khaliq were remanded in custody after appearing via video link. All 12 will next appear at Sheffield Crown Court on December 1st.
Senior Investigating Officer, Paul Williamson, told the Star: “We have now charged 21 men with over 94 child sexual abuse offences and expect this number to increase as more victims come forward.
“Officers are investigating more than 80 suspects and with the support of partner agencies, are currently engaging with 235 victims.
“Our focus is to bring lasting and worthwhile benefits for victims, helping to build better futures.
“We will listen to their accounts and investigate allegations made to identify and bring offenders to justice.
“This focus has not wavered and we, along with our partners will persist in our efforts to make Rotherham a hostile environment for child sex offenders.”
As a result of the authority's "outstanding work with vulnerable children"…
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 5, 2017
In August, 17 South Asian men and one white woman were convicted of involvement in a mostly-Muslim sex grooming gang operating in Newcastle.
The investigation in Newcastle identified more than 700 victims of abuse that spanned four years and was the largest case of its kind since Rotherham where more than 1,400 girls were targeted.
There have also been cases in Bristol, Derby, Oxford, Huddersfield, Peterborough, Telford, and Keighley, with the overwhelming majority of groomers being Muslim men. Ethnicity varies, however, with the Bristol gang being mainly Somali rather than South Asian.
Rape gangs have been operational for decades (from the late 1980s until 2010 in Rotherham, for example) with police taking little interest in complaints and largely ignoring the problem until 2001.
After the first prosecutions in Rochdale and the government’s Casey report into the Rotherham scandal, a “culture of silence” and political correctness were blamed for the inaction, and other cases were finally investigated.