Alexis Jay’s report into the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal highlights systemic failings by the Police and Rotherham’s Children’s Services. Professor Jay has concluded that between 1997 and 2013, 1, 400 children aged between eleven and sixteen were targeted by predatory gangs of Asian men. The former Head of Children’s Services, Shaun Wright, currently the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, has appeared before the Home Affairs Committee where he was questioned rigorously by MPs.
Based on a detailed analysis of case files, police records and interviews with victims, Professor Jay’s report makes for truly shocking reading. “It is difficult to describe,” Jay states, “the appalling nature of the abuse that the victims of sexual exploitation in Rotherham have endured over the years. Victims were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the North of England, abducted, beaten and intimidated … We read cases where a child was doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, children who were threatened with guns, children who witnessed brutally violent rapes and were threatened that they would be the next victim if they told anyone. Girls as young as 11 were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators one after the other …” A number of victims in Rotherham gave birth to babies conceived by their accusers. Others had miscarriages and terminations.
The conspiracy of silence surrounding the case is truly appalling. There is strong evidence to suggest that the police were aware of the allegations but failed to take action. Some victims and their families were warned by officers that they would be arrested for harassment if they continued to make allegations. Andrew Norfolk, writing in the Times (8 September 2014) quotes one victim who stated: “I’d told my social worker. The policeman was supposed to take me to a special unit, but he parked in a lay-by, turned to me and said that no good would come of it, that nobody would believe me. They’d say I was a liar.” At 17 years of age, Julie’s abuser (not her real name) ‘sold’ her to a restaurant owner in Blackpool where the horrific abuse continued in exchange for board and lodging. Journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, writing in the Sunday Mirror (31 August 2014) has issued a clarion call to white and Asian women to march together and shout: “These are our daughters. Human rights are for all, brown, black and white.”
The Rotherham sex abuse scandal pinpoints a number of ethical issues which are of paramount importance to the BFMS. First and foremost, the victims of this harrowing abuse do not need recovered memory therapy, hypnosis or psychotropic medication to help them to ‘remember’ the past. Unfortunately for these poor women and their families, it is all too easy to remember the grooming, exploitation and horrendous physical and mental anguish inflicted by their evil perpetrators. As any victim of sexual abuse will attest, it is all too easy to remember, especially when it has happened hundreds or even thousands of times. The extraordinary claims of recovered memory therapists – such as Valerie Sinason and her associates – that their clients have repressed memories of ritual sacrifice, murder and infanticide, are exposed by this real scandal as the hollow fakery which it is.
Second, the role of the police and local authority and their reluctance to protect these vulnerable children and tackle perpetrators is a shocking indictment of the system of criminal justice in the United Kingdom. All officers who presided over this scandal need to be brought to account. It is mind-boggling that the evidence of these victims was brushed under the carpet, yet as BFMS members know only too well, innocent people continue to be dragged through the legal system, their lives and the lives of their families ruined by vacuous allegations which, with simple fact-finding and robust investigation can in many cases be shown not only to be false, but actually impossible.
A case in point is Carol Felstead (now deceased). After receiving decades of therapy at the hands of unscrupulous practitioners, Carol became convinced that her family were the leaders of a multi-generational Satanic Cult. The intelligence systems of the Metropolitan Police Service recorded that Carol’s mother murdered another daughter, before sitting Carol on top of her sister’s corpse and burning the house down to conceal the crimes.
The correct chronological order of events was as follows:
- Carol’s parents did have another baby girl. Her name was Joan Julie (she was a Downs’ baby, born with a hole in her heart) and she died in hospital on 7 October 1962 – as can be seen by checking her death certificate.
- There was a tragic, accidental house fire. It happened in 1963 and was reported on the front page of a local newspaper.
- Carol was born in June 1964, after these events occurred. So this story is not only untrue, it is impossible.
This leads onto the third – and final point: namely that when the police are throwing resources at historic allegations based on false memories, they are directing these resources – which are not finite – away from genuine cases. In other words, the system is failing victims of sexual abuse, by focusing on an endless variety of insane criminal acts invented on the therapist’s couch. There are no winners in this process. What is the point of having a criminal justice system if it is failing victims of the worst kind of crime imaginable, bar genocide, and simultaneously ensnaring innocent people for imaginary crimes which never happened?