Care Home Girl Abused by 25 Men in 2 Years; Staff Allowed 14-Year-Old to Become a Prostitute for Fear of 'Infringing Her Human Rights'

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), August 27, 2006 | Go to article overview

Care Home Girl Abused by 25 Men in 2 Years; Staff Allowed 14-Year-Old to Become a Prostitute for Fear of 'Infringing Her Human Rights'


Byline: JO KNOWSLEY;EILEEN FAIRWEATHER

A 14-YEAR-OLD girl placed in a council children's home was prostituted to a group of depraved middle-aged men because staff were powerless to stop her going out.

The horrific story of 'Becky' is highlighted in a BBC programme presented by Fiona Bruce this week which reveals how she was sexually abused by 25 men over two years - despite being known to social services and having been placed on the Child Protection Register.

Even when she was put in a children's home - six months after her earliest allegations of abuse - staff allowed her to be used as a prostitute for fear their intervention might infringe her human rights.

The investigation has been drawn from her case notes. The local authority cannot be named in case it identifies the child, now 16, and living with a foster family.

Initially, Becky went to the police claiming she had been sexually abused by her stepfather - but they said there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

She then sought solace at the home of one of her mother's friends.

But even when police and social services became aware the woman's boyfriend was a registered sex offender, with a predilection for underage girls, they did nothing to remove Becky.

It was only when she complained she had been raped by the man and then turned to drink and drugs and harming herself that social services moved her to a children's home.

There, however, Becky was allowed to run riot - even being picked up from outside by a man 22 years her senior who forced her to have sex with him and his friends.

Becky absconded from the home 36 times and confided in a staff member what was happening to her - yet at no time was any recommendation made to place her in a secure unit, or restrain her from going out on the streets.

One staff member at the children's home was concerned, but the case notes reveal she was told by colleagues she was powerless to restrain the teenager.

The staff worker, who has since resigned, took the notes to the BBC.

Andrew Webb, director of the Association of Social Services, when confronted with the findings of the investigation, defended the actions of Becky's carers.

He said: 'We are bound by regulation not to curtail young people's liberty - they have rights. Human rights. The issue isn't one of the care home, it's an issue of the men who are prepared to have sex with children and pay money to have sex with children.

'The law takes the balance of civil liberties and human rights and says there has to be a really strong case to restrain a child. …

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