Litany of failures: UK dad rapes daughters for decades

The executive summary into the case described how the family had been in contact with 28 different agencies between 1973 and 2008, and that they had been seen by more than 100 professionals including social workers and police officials.

Sixteen case conferences were held and ambulance workers, a headteacher and hospital staff had all expressed concern about non-accidental injuries and the children’s poor hygiene. Yet nothing was done. Seven allegations of sexual abuse were made by family members — but they were not followed up.

Instead of swift intervention, a culture of having “a quiet word” was found to exist among professionals.

‘Sorry, we failed you’
On Thursday, Sheffield and Lincolnshire safeguarding children boards apologised for their failings. Chris Cook, independent chair of Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board, said: “We are genuinely sorry. We should have protected you. People’s lives were devastated both by a controlling, power-obsessed and deviant father and our failure to act.”
The nature of the failures were disclosed on Thursday, 18 months after the father was sentenced to 25 life sentences for raping his daughters in one of the worst cases of incest ever put before a British court.

The women had finally come forward in June 2008 when their father was arrested.

18 pregnancies
Wednesday’s report described how the man abused and intimidated his family, and how he moved them 67 times to avoid being detected by the authorities. During that time, two of his daughters, referred to as M and N, had become pregnant 18 times after being raped by him. Yet despite increasing suspicion that sexual abuse was taking place, none of the episodes was investigated effectively. On 23 separate occasions the women were specifically asked by the authorities about paternity of their children. They refused genetic counselling and there was concern that the father had become violent and aggressive towards them.

The girls and a brother, who suffered physical abuse, were on the child protection register for a decade.Speaking at a press conference, Professor Pat Cantrill, author of the report, said the abuse could have been stopped. The report found that the father intimidated and frightened his wife and children using physical violence and bullying.

His wife left in 1992, leaving the children with him. “Professionals failed to listen and consider the situation from the child’s perspective,” the summary concluded.

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