Social services dismissed sisters as ‘troublesome teenagers’ after reporting abuse, court told

Social services dismissed two sisters as “troublesome teenagers” when they were told of sexual abuse at the hands of their mother and stepfather, and returned them repeatedly to their care, a court has heard.

The two defendants, both in their 70s, are accused of repeatedly raping the older girl between 1975 and 1981, while the male defendant is accused of sexually assaulting her sister when social workers in West Sussex failed to intervene.

The older girl also asked for help from nuns running a children’s home in the county but was again ignored, and they were placed back with the two defendants – who cannot be named for legal reasons – following a stint in care, Southwark Crown Court (pictured) heard.

The older girl believes she was just 10 when the sexual abuse began, the court heard – just a few months after her new stepfather moved into their home.

Jurors were told that she remembers her mother climbing into bed with her and removing her clothes and touching her vagina before her stepfather raped her.

The alleged abuse continued into her teens, with the male defendant raping her both in the house and in his car, the court heard.

On one occasion, she claims she remembers being tied up and handcuffed to the bed for hours while her stepfather raped her as her mother looked on.

She said the defendant had sex with her at least 10 times during the incident while her mother also abused her.

Prosecutor Jose Olivares-Chandler said: “You will hear when she was growing up, the complainant did mention this sexual abuse to the professionals around her.”

He continued: “Whilst notes were made about it, no-one seemed to have taken her seriously.

“It looks like the word of a troublesome teenager in the late 1970s about sexual allegations was just dismissed at the time.”

The notes about the allegations are still in existence, jurors heard.

The author of the notes records that the male defendant was spoken to at the time, but denied any wrongdoing and had claimed his eldest stepdaughter had “come on to him”.

The second girl was between eight and 10 when her stepfather began abusing while her mother was at work, the court heard.

He also assaulted her while she slept between him and her mother in their bed, the court heard.

Mr Olivares-Chandler said that the female defendant, who was living in Ireland when she was arrested, was not only aware of the sexual abuse of eldest daughter but “actively encouraged it”.

She would get her eldest daughter “ready” for her then-husband to rape, Mr Olivares-Chandler said, and ignored the risk to her younger daughter.

The two complainants, now in their 50s, did not remain in touch into adulthood, jurors heard, and ended up making separate allegations to police.

An allegation made by the older complainant in August 2013 to Merseyside police was eventually matched by officers to a complaint made by the younger sister to Dorset police in 2011.

Former partners of both complainants told police they remembered being told about the abuse almost 20 years before either woman went to police.

The male defendant was tracked down in Stowmarket, Suffolk, having split with his former wife and co-defendant more than 30 years beforehand.

The male defendant denies six counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault, while his former wife denies three counts of rape and one count of indecent assault.

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.