Women raped by father for 30 years finally get an apology
UK authorities admit 'collective failure' over sisters who had 18 pregnancies
Published 11/03/2010 | 05:00
Two women who were repeatedly abused and raped by their father for three decades -- bearing seven of his children -- yesterday received an unreserved apology from British authorities who failed to protect them.
The women were repeatedly beaten and raped by their father, enduring 18 pregnancies between them during the horrific ordeal. In November 2008 he was jailed for life.
On the publication of the executive summary of a Serious Case Review, authorities yesterday apologised for a "collective failure" that left the women in his hands for several decades.
The review said the family had contact with 28 different agencies and 100 members of staff over 35 years.
The review, which covers a 35-year period, showed the family moved repeatedly -- 67 times -- in the Sheffield and Lincolnshire areas so the father could avoid detection.
Concerns were raised that the women were bearing his children, but professionals failed to help them, the report revealed.
Sheffield and Lincolnshire safeguarding children boards apologised for their failings and insisted changes had been made to protect families from abuse.
In November, Sheffield Crown Court heard the man's campaign of abuse started when the women were aged between eight and 10. If they refused his advances, they would be punched, kicked and sometimes held to the flames of a gas fire.
The defendant, who called himself the "gaffer", took pleasure in fathering children by his daughters and would continue to rape them despite problems with their pregnancies, the court heard.
The executive summary of the review made 128 recommendations, including eight national recommendations.
Author Professor Pat Cantrill said: "We have got to learn from these serious case reviews.
Recommendations include improvements in sharing information and record keeping.
Prof Cantrill said: "It only really needed one person with tenacity to keep pushing this and pushing this and we might have had a much earlier recognition and action being taken.
"There was a real lack of grabbing hold of this situation and really being able to lead on it," she added.
Authorities confirmed that nobody involved with the family had been sacked, disciplined or had resigned over the failures.
The summary divided the family's experiences into three episodes: their time in Sheffield from 1975 to 1988; Lincolnshire from 1988 to 2004; and Sheffield from 2004 to 2008.
In the first period, six referrals were made about the children between 1975 and 1978 alleging neglect and physical abuse.
Between 1990 and 1996, either one daughter or the other was pregnant every year, sometimes twice a year, and on four occasions they were pregnant at the same time, it said.
It said professionals were suspicious the man was fathering his daughters' children and there were seven allegations reported about incest or sexual abuse from family members.
On 23 occasions from 1998 to 2005 the girls were specifically asked about the paternity of their children by various people.
But despite concerns, professionals felt there was nothing they could do unless the women admitted it themselves.
Police were finally handed a statement in 2008 and the man was arrested and prosecuted.