Victim of gang rape 40 years ago urges witnesses ‘to right this dreadful wrong’

The victim of a gang rape by a group of rugby players more than 40 years ago has made a direct appeal to two witnesses to name her attackers.

The woman, who was 17 at the time of the attack in 1978, was overpowered and raped at a hotel in Plymouth.

After the alleged incident, the woman was taken to another hotel by two other members of the rugby team, one of whom was believed to be a teacher.

In her appeal to those two men, she said: “You appeared at the time to want to stop the attack on me, and you also appeared to be shocked by the action of your teammates.

“I would like you to know that I was very young and very scared and that the impact of your teammates’ rape on that Saturday afternoon has affected me every day for 42 years.

“The shame of not being able to stop the attack caused me to leave home, aged 17. Even now at 59, I suffer from PTSD.

“There are not many people who truly get the opportunity in their lives to right such a dreadful wrong.

“The fact that you actually know the identities of all of my rapists gives you this unique opportunity. Please help me by coming forward and identifying your teammates who raped me.”

The alleged offence took place on a Saturday in late January or early February in 1978 at the now closed Strathmore Hotel in Elliot Street.

In a statement issued by Devon and Cornwall Police, the woman also appealed to anyone who may know the identity of the team that went on tour to Plymouth from South Wales at that time.

The rape happened during the firefighters’ strike and due to the freezing weather, many sports fixtures were cancelled.

“This ordeal for me might have been laughed off by teammates as tour ‘high spirits’. But this was nothing of the sort. For me, it was terrifying,” the woman said.

“Fortunately, though, there are many people who know exactly what these men did to me because they were there to witness it.

“Allegiances change over time, and those witnesses may not feel able to protect these people any longer by the silence of the ‘what happens on tour, stays on tour’ mantra.

“You may even know how they planned it, and how they put that plan into operation. You may even be aware that this was possibly not the first or last time that they did something similar to other young girls or women.

“Please help me by taking this opportunity to right this dreadful wrong.”

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