The Social Services dismissed claims of sexual abuse made by two sisters against their mother and stepfather. Social services referred to the elder sister as a “troublesome teenager.”
The trial of the sisters’ mother and father is being heard at the Southwark Crown Court. The Defendants stand accused of raping and repeatedly abusing the older sister between 1975 and 1981. The stepfather is accused of abusing the younger sister.
The mother denies 3 counts of rape and 1 count of indecent assault. The stepfather denies 6 counts of rape and 2 counts of indecent assault.
Jurors heard evidence from the older sibling that she recalls, “her stepfather moving into their home when she was aged 10 and a few months later her mother climbed into bed with her naked and abused her, before her stepfather raped her.”
Evidence was given that the mother “actively encouraged the assaults on her eldest daughter.” The eldest daughter claims that on once occasion, “she was handcuffed to the bed for hours and raped at least 10 times by her father, while her mother watched and abused her.”
The elder sibling reported the abuse at the time but her complaints were ignored. She even asked for help from nuns running a Children’s Home in West Sussex, but no notice was taken of her allegations and she was returned to her abusers.
The Social Services have written records of her complaints. Prosecutor Jose Olivares-Chandler said:
“When she was growing up, the complainant did mention this sexual abuse to the professionals around her. Whilst notes were made about it, no-one seemed to have taken her seriously. It looks like the word of a troublesome teenager… was just dismissed.”
Jurors heard the notes records the stepfather denying wrongdoing and claiming the eldest stepdaughter had “come on to him”.
The younger sibling was aged between 8 and 10 years old when her abuse started.
In adulthood the sisters lost touch but both separately reported their allegations to the Police when they were in their 50’s. One report was made to the Dorset Police in 2011 and another report was made to the Merseyside Police in 2013.
The stepfather and mother are now separated and both in their 70’s. The trial continues.
It is a sad fact that abuse may be carried out by a member of the immediate family and whilst it is reasonable to hope that every child will grow up and develop in a safe, stable environment sadly this does not always happen. By carefully investigating the circumstances, our abuse team can help advice whether a claim may be advanced against an individual abuser and/or the relevant social services department.
Whilst local authority social services departments have various mechanisms and powers to take action to protect children who may be suffering from or at risk of suffering harm or abuse, sometimes things go wrong. When a relevant local authority assumes responsibility for a vulnerable child but then fails in their duty of care there may be a claim to be brought. If a child goes on to suffer abuse due to those failings compensation may be awarded.
If you are affected by anything in this article and want advice about pursuing a civil claim please do not hesitate to contact our Child Abuse department either free on 033 03001103 or request a call back.