For decades, it’s now believed that hundreds of girls — some of them as young as 11 — were victims of a massive child sex ring based in the U.K. town of Telford.
And while authorities became aware of the abuse in the 1990s, no official investigation was launched until about a decade later. In fact, according to the Sunday Mirror, it’s possible that police even tried to cover up what was happening.
Though there were likely a plethora of reasons for this, it seems as though police were afraid that if they attempted to bust the child sex ring — which was run in large part by Asian men — they would face allegations of racism.
Starting in the 1980s, hundreds of girls were beaten, drugged and raped. Overall, it’s estimated that up to 1,000 young women were victims. Then, in the 1990s, social workers allegedly found out about what was going on.
However, the girls were seen as prostitutes rather than as victims, and police did little to address the abuse.
According to the Mirror, “Authorities failed to keep details of abusers from Asian communities for fear of ‘racism.'”
It was not until about a decade later that police launched Operation Chalice, an investigation that attempted to deal with the issue. Even then, just nine people were put in jail, though authorities believed there could be up to 200 perpetrators.
Investigators with the Mirror spoke to 12 victims, who accused more than 70 people of being involved in the abuse. According to some of those victims, police offered little help.
“One victim explained that the police tried to prevent her from discovering why her abuser was not jailed because they feared she would share her story with the press,” National Review reported in its article covering the Mirror’s investigation.
Another victim, who was only 14 when she was abused, revealed horrific details regarding how the abusers made her cooperate.
“I hated what was happening and my abusers made my skin crawl but I was told that if I said a word to anyone they’d come for my little sisters and tell my mum I was a prostitute,” she said. “I fell pregnant twice and had two abortions. Hours after my second termination, I was taken by one of my abusers to be raped by more men.”
“The worst moment came just after my 16th birthday when I was drugged and gang raped by five men,” the victim added.
The Mirror’s report has sparked calls for an investigation into how authorities dealt with the scandal.
Lucy Allan, who represents Telford in Britain’s parliament, called the findings “extremely serious and shocking.”
“There must now be an independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Telford so that our community can have absolute confidence in the authorities,” Allan said.
Meanwhile, according to Dino Nocivelli, who works as a solicitor in the child abuse department at legal firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, the survivors of the abuse “deserve an inquiry.”
“These children were treated as sexual commodities by men who inflicted despicable acts of abuse,” Nocivelli said. “They need to know how abuse took place for so long and why so many perpetrators have never been brought to justice.”
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