Eight men have been found guilty of waging what prosecutors called an “utterly abhorrent” campaign of sexual violence against young girls in the northern town of Rotherham 13 years ago.
The men, who include two brothers and four cousins, all raped or indecently assaulted the same girl when she was just 13. They were also found guilty of charges including rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment relating to her and two other victims of the same age.
Those convicted at Sheffield Crown Court on Monday (17) were Sageer Hussain, Mohammed Whied, Ishtiaq Khaliq, Waleed Ali, Asif Ali, Masoued Malik, Basharat Hussain and Naeem Rafiq. They will be sentenced on November. 4.
Peter Mann, Head of the Complex Casework Unit of Yorkshire and Humberside Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Their victims were targeted, sexualised, and in some cases subjected to degrading and violent acts.
“Sageer Hussain in particular took a leading role in befriending the young girls, and in the case of one victim, passed her on to his friends and other associates, assisted in various ways by the other defendants.” Two years ago, Hussain was interviewed by Channel 4 during a report on sexual abuse in the city in which he defended his brother Arshad and the relationship between Asian men and white girls from the area.
The main complainant, who is now 27 years old, endured years of abuse after initially being ‘lured by the excitement and friendship of older Asian males’. But this soon ‘moved into a life of deceit and fear’, prosecutors said.
Despite reporting the abuse to police, social services, their MP and then-Home Secretary David Blunkett, no action was ever taken and the family were forced to move to Spain temporarily.
Dr Alan Billings, the police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, said the convictions showed that authorities had changed the way they handled such cases. He said: “South Yorkshire police is proving that it has learned from past mistakes and is determined to get right what it got so badly wrong before.”
The court convicted the men on the following charges. Sageer Hussain was found guilty of four counts of rape and one of indecent assault. His brother Basharat Hussain, 40, was found guilty of indecent assault. The brothers’ cousin, Mohammed Whied, 32, was found guilty of aiding and abetting rape. Ishtiaq Khaliq, 33, was found guilty of rape and three counts of indecent assault. Waleed Ali, 34, was found guilty of rape and indecent assault. Another of the Hussains’ cousins, Asif Ali, 30, was found guilty of rape. Masoued Malik, 32, was found guilty of rape, false imprisonment and conspiracy to commit indecent assault. Naeem Rafiq, 33, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit indecent assault and false imprisonment.
A 2014 inquiry headed by Professor Alexis Jay - currently the head of Britain’s wider, national inquiry into historical sex abuse - found at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
Post this week’s verdict, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said it was separately investigating more than 11,000 lines of inquiry relating to non-familial child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2003.