Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

40 Children Abused by Staff at Care Centre

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

40 Children Abused by Staff at Care Centre

Article excerpt

Byline: MARTIN DELGADO

AT LEAST 40 children were sexually abused by staff at a centre for young people with learning disabilities.

The extent of the abuse, and fears of a cover-up over it, are revealed for the first time today in a report obtained by the Evening Standard.

Although two male carers were suspended and another was dismissed, no one has been prosecuted and a series of botched inquiries have left victims and their families traumatised and with a "deeply felt sense of injustice."

Experts recommend a three-year programme of therapy and counselling to help them recover, but an internal Bromley council memo - also seen by the Standard - says this should be rejected because it would take too long and the [pound]200,000 cost is too much.

The abuse is alleged to have taken place over 12 years at Betts Way residential unit, which opened in 1988 and was closed in March 2000. Funded by Bromley social services and Bromley NHS primary care trust, it provided respite care for about 170 children.

The victims - no one knows the exact number - were subjected to "serious sexual and physical maltreatment". One male care worker is alleged to have abused children at his flat. But parents' complaints were mishandled, leading to suspicions of a cover-up, says the report.

In 1995, a 16-year-old girl claimed she had been sexually abused at the centre, which she had been attending since she was 10. As police investigated, dozens more children came forward, but no charges were brought because the Crown Prosecution Service decided victims' learning difficulties meant their evidence would not stand up in court.

"All the parties involved in this case have been left traumatised to some degree", says the report by Respond, a voluntary organisation specialising in this area of work. "Bromley social services and Bromley NHS primary care trust find themselves being accused of responsibility for a worrying number of cases of sexual abuse, and attempts to cover up these cases. …

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