Two men have been imprisoned for the child sexual exploitation of three girls in Rotherham.
Ben Chivers and Brett McLaughlan appeared at Sheffield Crown Court charged with child sexual offences in 2015. At the beginning of their trial on Wednesday 4 October, Chivers pleaded guilty to raping a 12-year-old, three counts of sexual activity with a 13-year-old and three counts of sexual activity with a 14-year-old in 2015.
McLaughlan went on trial charged with the sexual assault of a 14-year-old and the rape of a 12-year-old. He was found guilty of rape and not guilty of sexual assault. Both will be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court in the next two months and are currently being held in custody.
The court heard how Chivers and McLaughlan targeted their victims, all girls under the age of 15, who cannot be named for legal reasons. Chivers befriended them online and arranged to meet them, before going on to commit sexual offences against the girls.
Acting Detective Sergeant Gareth Gent explained: “These two men, who were both adults at the time of their offending, knew that the girls were underage, because each victim made this clear either via social media messaging or in person.
“They groomed their victims with claims of affection and by giving them attention.
“They exploited these children, subjecting them to sexual abuse and in some cases raped them, all the while tightening their grip over the victims’ thoughts and feelings.
“When the abuse was eventually disclosed to police and investigated, such was the hold these men had over their victims, the girls still believed that they had been in a relationship with the two predators,” he added.
Ian Thomas, Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council said: “Yet again we are seeing the net closing in on those that are committing child sexual exploitation offences. It is an horrendous crime and those that commit such offences have no place in our town.
“These latest convictions come after numerous others which have seen perpetrators jailed for more than a combined total of 350 years. By working together with the police and other partners at Evolve our message is loud and clear – we will track you down and you will be prosecuted.”
The convictions came after an independent inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham by Alexis Jay found that 1,400 children had been sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013.
Meanwhile, The Guardian has reported that Rotherham social services are seeking an adoptive home for four sisters after a judge ruled that they cannot be separated. The current foster family believe they are too old to adopt the children who are all under 18.