The Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal is arguably the worst child safeguarding failure in British history. In August 2014 an inquiry led by Professor Alexis Jay concluded that at least 1,400 children, the majority of whom were white girls aged 11–15, had been sexually abused in the English town of Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. This abuse had been committed predominantly by British-Pakistani men. As shocking as the scale of the abuse was, what made the events even more unbelievable was the sheer incompetence of the authorities and their subsequent attempts to suppress the truth of what had been really happening. The abuse was an open secret in the town and further afield. What was not known was that the authorities were failing to produce a meaningful, transparent response of any kind. In this edition of the podcast, Aidan talks to solicitor, David Greenwood, also Chairman of Stop Church Child Abuse, to discuss this real-life horror story. David and his team of solicitors represented – and continue to represent – several of the young girls who were subjected to sexual abuse by gangs of men in Rotherham over an astonishing 16 year period. This is not a classic far-right conspiracy yarn nor is it a grisly fiction novel, though it appears as far-fetched as anything you could ever read about. Sadly it is a true story of what happens when a society and its institutions abrogate their moral responsibilities. Aidan previously spoke to David for episode 37, ‘Dogmatic Silence: Abuse in the Church’, which examined the failures of the Catholic and Anglican Churches in dealing with child sex abuse.
Additional notes regarding items discussed on this episode:
In the United Kingdom, you can report criminal offences to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.
For listeners in the United States, see the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Visit https://www.rainn.org/ for more information.
Sarah Wilson’s book is called ‘Violated: A Shocking and Harrowing Survival Story from the Notorious Rotherham Abuse Scandal’ and is widely available, including via Amazon.