In a landmark settlement Essex County Council has paid four siblings sexual abuse compensation totalling nearly £1m for failing to protect them from sexual abuse by their father and uncle.
The childrens’ claims of sexual abuse dated back to 1990 when one of the victims first told a neighbour that “Daddy has been bonking me”.
Her allegation led to a child protection investigation which revealed that the father had already been convicted of sexually abusing his two children from a previous marriage.
The father was ordered to leave the family home but continued to be given access to his children. Despite the fact that the children’s mother was supposed to be supervising the visits, it was later claimed that he had been left alone with the children in 1993, although this was never investigated.
Essex council carried out a risk assessment of the father and after further claims of sexual abuse in 1995 and 1996, he was assessed as being at “high risk” of re-offending. Unbelievably, despite concluding that the children should be protected from abuse from their father, Essex Council suggested that he should continue to have supervised visits with them.
A family psychiatric report was subsequently commissioned in 1997. The report prepared by Great Ormond Street Hospital exposed the father and his brother (their uncle) of seriously sexually abusing the children and further, concluded that their mother had been aware of the abuse. The children were then placed under full care orders.
The victims only launched their claim in 2002 after Southend Borough Council became aware of their case and contacted a children’s charity to take legal action on their behalf.
The sexual abuse compensation settlement was only reached in November 2011. However, commentators believe that the landmark award will encourage a “hidden army” of sexually abused children to come forward and force local authorities to account for their serial failings in sexual abuse cases.