Mother of children groomed online says web companies should pay compensation

The mother of a sister and brother sexually groomed and abused online has said web companies should be made to pay victims compensation, an inquiry has heard.

The woman, who cannot be identified, said the internet “made me fail as a parent”, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) heard on Tuesday.

Her son and daughter, aged 12 and 13 at the time, were groomed through the now-defunct online platform BearShare by Anthony O’Connor, then 57, who forced the young boy to sexually touch his sister as he watched.

O’Connor, currently serving a 14-year prison sentence, threatened the girl to make her to continue performing sex acts on herself on camera.

The abuse took a severe mental toll on both brother and sister, the inquiry heard.

However the siblings are not eligible for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, because the abuse they suffered took place wholly online, the hearing was told.

Their mother told the hearing: “I feel very strongly that people who create the websites should take responsibility.

“They should be the ones paying compensation to my children.

“Because of what I went through as a child the only thing I wanted to do was be perfect, you know, the best mother in the world, and look after my kids.

“And I did that, but because of the internet, they made me fail as a parent, and unless you’ve been through this you’ve got no idea how it impacts on you.

“It should be their responsibility to get my kids the help and support they need to get through this, because they created the problem, they should fix it.”

The IICSA is conducting its second investigation phase, into how the internet is used to facilitate child sexual abuse in England and Wales through acts like grooming, sharing indecent images, and live-streaming abuse.

The hearing continues.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Chris Radburn / PA Wire.