Teenager at high risk of sexual exploitation moved to specialist unit for her own protection

A woman in her late teens who has a learning difficulty and a history of being sexually abused by men is under close supervision at a specialist unit for her own protection, a judge has heard.

Lawyers representing a council responsible for the woman’s care told Mr Justice Keehan how the woman had absconded from placements and engaged in “sexual activities” with strangers.

They said she had been sexually abused by “multiple males at a time” and is considered to be at “high risk” of sexual exploitation.

Mr Justice Keehan, who is based in London, considered the woman’s case at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where judges consider issues relating to people who might lack the mental capacity to make decisions, on Wednesday.

He agreed it would be in her best interests to remain at the unit and agreed that she lacked the mental capacity to make decisions about contact with others.

The judge said the woman could not be named in media reports of the case.

But he said social services bosses at Stoke-on-Trent City Council (pictured) had responsibility for her care and had asked him to consider the case.

A barrister leading the council’s legal team outlined detail of the woman’s history to the judge.

Emma Sutton said the woman has a history of self-harming, has been in council care for several years, and has engaged in extreme risk-taking behaviours.

“This included absconding from her placements and engaging in sexual activities with adult males, often with the ‘reward’ of drugs, being sexually abused, often by multiple males at a time, and she was considered a victim of modern slavery and at high risk of child sexual exploitation,” she said.

“Regrettably, although the level of restrictions remains high (she) has continued to evade professional supervision, on occasion, and has absconded and repeated her pattern of engaging in sexual relations with strangers, and where alcohol and drugs are consumed.”

The woman is continuously supervised during the day and has to sleep with her bedroom door ajar to enable staff to regularly look into her room, and she is not allowed items which she could use to harm herself of others, the judge was told.

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