Eight members of a UK child sex abuse gang have been found guilty of exploiting girls as young as 13 in the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham.
The men – Sageer Hussain, Masoued Malik, Mohammed Whied, Waleed Ali, Ishtiaq Khaliq, Asif Ali, Naeem Rafiq and Basharat Hussain – committed the offences between 1999 and 2003. They were reminded into custody ahead of sentencing, which is scheduled to take place on 4 November at Sheffield Crown Court.
After more than 17 hours of deliberations, a jury found the men guilty of a range of crimes, including rape, indecent assault and false imprisonment. Ringleader Sageer Hussain was found guilty of four rapes and one indecent assault, while his brother Basharat was convicted of indecent assault against the same victim.
During the course of the one-month trial, jurors heard how Sageer Hussain had told one 13-year-old victim that “all white girls are good for is sex and they are just slags”. Hussain and the rest of his gang used alcohol, cannabis and cigarettes to groom the girls they abused, before raping them in alleyways and on top of car bonnets.
Following the men’s convictions, Peter Mann, of Yorkshire and Humberside Crown Prosecution Service, said: “In contrast to the courage and strength of the victims, these men’s actions are utterly abhorrent. They waged a campaign of sexual violence and intimidation against young girls in the Rotherham area 13 years ago.
“Their victims were targeted, sexualised, and in some cases subjected to degrading and violent acts. Sageer Hussain in particular took a leading role in befriending the young girls, and in the case of one victim, passed her on to his friends and other associates, assisted in various ways by the other defendants.”
Rotherham has become synonymous with child sexual exploitation after a report revealed that 1,400 children had been abused in the town between 1997 and 2013. Following the convictions of Sageer Hussain and his gang, the National Crime Agency revealed that it is currently probing more than 11,100 lines of inquiry relating to non-familial child sexual exploitation in the town between 1997 and 2003.
The scandal in Rotherham forms part of a wider controversy over multiple allegations of historic child sexual exploitation across British society that came to light after the deceased entertainer Jimmy Savile was revealed to be one of the country’s most prolific paedophiles of all time. Since Savile’s crimes came to light in 2012, prosecutions for sex offences have rocketed in the UK.
The British government has commissioned an independent inquiry into cases of historic child sexual abuse in the country. Currently headed by Professor Alexis Jay – who led the Rotherham probe – the inquiry has got off to a rocky start, having lost three chairpersons since it launched in 2014.