FIGHT­ING ON: Vic­tim of sex­ual ex­ploita­tion speaks out

On Fri­day six men, five of them from Bucks, were found guilty of child sex of­fences at the end of a nine week trial at the Old Bai­ley. Camilla Good­man speaks to one of the vic­tim’s, her fa­ther and an or­gan­i­sa­tion who sup­ported her through­out the case to f

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THE fa­ther of the vic­tim at the cen­tre of the court case known as Girl B says he feels he has failed his daugh­ter. Although he sensed some­thing was wrong, the dis­cov­ery last year that his daugh­ter was at the cen­tre of a child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion case came as a huge shock.

He said: “At the time it was all go­ing on I knew some­thing was wrong, but I didn’t have the tools to un­der­stand that it was child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion (CSE).

“My daugh­ter was such a beau­ti­ful, lov­ing young girl. She was happy and cheeky, she had hopes and as­pi­ra­tions and was a very in­tel­li­gent child. She al­ways had a vi­sion of what she wanted from life and what she wanted to do.

“Me and her mum had split up, but she was still loved and sup­ported.

“Peo­ple use the term ‘bro­ken home’ too loosely. Just be­cause her par­ents were split up doesn’t give a gang of preda­tory pae­dophiles the right to ex­ploit her for their own per­verted ends.

“The first I knew about my daugh­ter be­ing in trou­ble was when she was ex­pelled from school for tak­ing drugs. I didn’t even know she smoked cig­a­rettes.

“From then on she was run­ning away from home, say­ing she wanted to go and live in a chil­dren’s home. I was on the phone to so­cial ser­vices ev­ery day say­ing can you help, I don’t know what is hap­pen­ing.

“As a par­ent, this was be­yond my un­der­stand­ing. It was only af­ter I did a CSE course online re­cently that I gained a slight un­der­stand­ing of what CSE is and how the peo­ple do the groom­ing and how that di­rectly af­fects the vic­tims. It was then that things started to slot into place. It was like light bulbs go­ing off; I was think­ing I no­ticed that, I re­mem­bered that. At the time I felt all my in­stincts were bit­ing at me but I couldn’t place what was wrong. By then those peo­ple had got the con­trol they needed.

“These peo­ple alien­ate their vic­tims from their fam­i­lies, take away the trust, the gen­eral re­spect. I knew there was some­thing wrong and I couldn’t iden­tify it. That’s why I was plead­ing with the lo­cal au­thor­ity for help. They said she’s just be­ing naughty. Now we know she wasn’t just be­ing naughty, she was be­ing groomed.

“As her Dad, I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity. I feel like I’ve failed her. Par­ents are ig­no­rant to CSE be­cause the tools are not there in front of us. Peo­ple need to be taught. When the head­teacher was ex­pelling her for bring­ing weed into school, did he ever con­sider that this girl could be the vic­tim of CSE?

“If CSE is hap­pen­ing in a lit­tle mar­ket town like Ayles­bury, it’s hap­pen­ing in towns and cities all over the coun­try, right this minute.

“You can’t be in de­nial. If it means you’ve got to feel a bit un­com­fort­able in or­der to ed­u­cate peo­ple, I’d rather feel un­com­fort­able and be ed­u­cated. The way for­ward is ed­u­ca­tion. Ed­u­cate par­ents, ed­u­cate schools, ed­u­cate peo­ple who come into con­tact with chil­dren. Tell par­ents, this is what CSE is, it’s hap­pen­ing around you whether you like to ac­knowl­edge it or not. How many peo­ple might think, that’s why our chil­dren are be­hav­ing like this? It’s al­most like an epiphany.

“Some peo­ple who this has also hap­pened to are prob­a­bly too scared to deal with it. My daugh­ter locked it away for a long time, it was gone as far as she was con­cerned.

“It wasn’t un­til she started speak­ing to po­lice that things slowly sur­faced. If other vic­tims, girls and boys, can see this case and see they are taken se­ri­ously, that the peo­ple who have com­mit­ted these crimes are dealt with, then they may come for­ward.

“It’s shat­ter­ing. For the peo­ple you love the most to be hurt to that de­gree. There’s not a word you can as­so­ciate with that level of guilt and pain.

“What these peo­ple did to these chil­dren is be­yond com­pre­hen­sion. It’s dis­gust­ingly ab­hor­rent. I de­test them. If you have the propen­sity to do that kind of thing en masse, it’s al­most like they are skilled. They are skilled in ma­nip­u­lat­ing peo­ple, in groom­ing. They have no place amongst so­ci­ety.

“The peo­ple who did this don’t de­serve to see the light of day again be­cause they are go­ing to be a threat for life. My

daugh­ter went from hav­ing all those as­pi­ra­tions to be­com­ing a chronic drug ad­dict, los­ing ev­ery­thing, and even though the trial is go­ing to fin­ish, my daugh­ter has to live with what hap­pened to her for the rest of her life.

“They took her pride, her self-es­teem, all the things that would have helped her to de­velop into a healthy young woman. They took years away from her that they had no right to take.

“There are no cop­ing mech­a­nisms for this stuff. My re­la­tion­ship with my daugh­ter now is very lov­ing but it can be tense. We will al­ways be strong, but we have not even be­gun the process of heal­ing yet.

“My daugh­ter is a bright, ar­tic­u­late young girl and I’m deeply proud of her for com­ing to speak to the po­lice about some­thing as hor­rific as this. The strength and courage she has shown is in­cred­i­ble.

“I’m fiercely proud of my daugh­ter for how she has han­dled her­self dur­ing this and I’m proud of the woman she is go­ing to be­come. She is ca­pa­ble of any­thing.

“As a fam­ily we will go on. These peo­ple may have chipped away at us but when they are in jail in a year’s time, we will still be sat round the ta­ble hav­ing our Sun­day din­ner, laugh­ing and jok­ing to­gether.”

PROM­ISE: Su­per­in­ten­dent Steve Hockin, lo­cal po­lice com­man­der for Chiltern and South Bucks, made a per­sonal pledge in sup­port of Child Sex­ual Ex­ploita­tion aware­ness day

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