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UK's Rotherham child abuse victims sue for damages

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A group of child abuse victims in the British town of Rotherham have launched a legal compensation suit amid growing outrage in the country over the failure of authorities to stop 16 years of abuse.

Attorneys for 15 child sexual abuse victims in the northern English town announced on Wednesday that they are seeking up to $165,000 each in compensation for the official negligence.

David Greenwood of Switalskis Solicitors, who is acting on behalf of the 15 victims, said they were seeking compensation because local officials and police did not act to stop the abuse sooner.

“Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police missed clear opportunities to prevent the sexual exploitation of dozens of girls in Rotherham,” he said.

A report out Tuesday estimated that some 1,400 children in the town of the 250,000 had been sexually exploited by gangs of Asian men (mostly Muslims).

The South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright, who was the local council member in charge of children’s services during some of the time when the abuse took pace, resigned from the Labour party over the scandal.

But Wright insisted he would not leave his current post as regional police chief despite calls for him to quit over the extent of the abuse.

Some victims were doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone, according to the report.

The estimated figure was extrapolated from a random sample of 38 children who were known to the social services and police because of past difficulties, plus a range of other case files and reports.

The head of the local council, Roger Stone, resigned immediately after the publication of the report which detailed “blatant” failures, including officials ignoring numerous reports of exploitation or blaming the victims.

No council officers, however, are facing disciplinary action over what happened.


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