Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

DON'T Let Them Get Away with It ... Sex Assault Victim Opens Her Heart after Waiting over 30 Years to Break Her Silence

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

DON'T Let Them Get Away with It ... Sex Assault Victim Opens Her Heart after Waiting over 30 Years to Break Her Silence

Article excerpt

Byline: GARETH LIGHTFOOT

gareth.lightfoot@eveninggazette.co.uk A WOMAN sexually assaulted by a former Middlesbrough ice cream man has told other child abuse victims: "Believe in yourself and fight."

She sounded a stirring message to all who suffer at the hands of sexual abusers: "Don't let them get away with it."

And she warned their tormentors: "Don't do this because you will get caught in the end. In the end children grow up and they lose their fear of you."

The woman saw her childhood sex attacker Joseph Villa, 70, found guilty of 10 counts of indecent assault - crimes dating back to the 1970s.

She said: "If everybody comes forward and victims come forward, maybe, just maybe, we might prevent a disaster.

"If they get the message that they will get caught and they will get punished, it might put them off.

"You can't keep a child quiet for ever. They have a habit of growing up and forming their own minds and opinions."

It took more than three decades for the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to overcome her fears, break her silence and bring her attacker to justice.

Villa had threatened her and warned her to keep quiet.

Now a pensioner, Villa, of Harrow Road, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, the retired boss of ice cream business Villa Ices, denied all of the crimes as "laughable" lies.

He forced her to face him across the courtroom and relive her awful experiences to a jury of total strangers - twice.

A first jury was unable to reach verdicts. Months later a second jury heard a retrial, leaving her "exhausted".

The woman says if Villa had been cleared, she would have pursued a private prosecution through the civil courts.

"I would have got the money together somehow. It wasn't going away and I wasn't going to let it," she said.

This proved unnecessary as the jury rejected Villa's story and convicted him on all charges at Teesside Crown Court this week. …

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