Government agency denied Rotherham sex abuse survivor compensation after telling her she 'consented'

Anthony Pearce
Sammy Woodhouse, right, pictured with her sister on Good Morning Britain, waived her right to anonymity (Rex)
Sammy Woodhouse, right, pictured with her sister on Good Morning Britain, waived her right to anonymity (Rex)

A woman who was raped as a child by a Rotherham grooming gang was refused compensation after a government agency claimed she consented to the sexual abuse.

Sammy Woodhouse, who waived her anonymity this year, was 14 when she was groomed by the ringleader of the gang.

Her evidence helped convict her Arshid Hussain, 24, who was jailed for 35 years after being convicted —along with his brothers — of multiple offences including rape, abduction and indecent assault.

But Woodhouse was told by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) that she was not “manipulated”.

The BBC’s Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire programme found that CICA initially said: “I am not satisfied that your consent was falsely given as a result of being groomed by the offender.

“The evidence does not indicate that you were manipulated or progressively lured into a false relationship.”

Woodhouse said: “If an adult can privately think that it’s a child’s fault for being abused, beaten, raped, abducted, I think you’re in the wrong job.”

(From top left) Arshid Hussain, Bannaras Hussain, Basharat Hussain, Shelley Davies, Karen MacGregor and Qurban Ali, who are guilty of sex offences
(From top left) Arshid Hussain, Bannaras Hussain, Basharat Hussain, Shelley Davies, Karen MacGregor and Qurban Ali, who are guilty of sex offences

In July, it was revealed that sexually abused children as young as 12 are being denied compensation by the agency because they are considered to have “consented”.

The CICA, which is part of the Ministry of Justice, offers compensation payouts for sexual assault cases that range from £1,000 to £44,000.

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However, it has refused payments to almost 700 child victims, a freedom of information request revealed.

The age of consent in the UK is 16, and the Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides specific legal protection for children aged 12 and under who cannot legally give their consent to any form of sexual activity.

But, by using a different criteria, the CICA has been able to deny compensation.

In one case, a 12-year-old girl who was given alcohol, led into the woods and sexually assaulted by a 21-year-old man, was denied compensation because she went with him “voluntarily”.

Her attacker pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13.

Woodhouse’s solicitor David Greenwood said: “I am utterly shocked by the notion that decision-makers in a government organisation can consider that 14- or 15-year-old girls can consent to sex with adults.

“They decided she must have consented when it’s just not legally possible.”

In 2016, brothers Arshid, Basharat and Bannaras Hussain were convicted of sexually abusing young girls in the South Yorkshire town.

The men groomed and raped children for nearly 20 years, and were found guilty of 55 serious offences.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how they targeted 15 vulnerable girls, one as young as 11, and subjected them to rape, forced prostitution, indecent assault and false imprisonment.

Their victims were among the 1,400 children who had suffered sexual abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013

Victims were routinely ignored by the police, social services and the council, according to the Jay report, which said there had been “blatant” collective failures.

Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, recently called for a change in CICA rules.

She said: “When I first learned that child victims were being denied compensation because the CICA felt they were complicit in their own abuse, I simply couldn’t believe it.

“The law is very clear that a child under 16 years cannot give consent, yet the CICA are ignoring this. When I started researching this injustice it I found had affected some of my constituents.

“I have written to the Secretary of State for Justice demanding they make sure the CICA change their policy so that children are not considered to be complicit in their own abuse and punished because of it.

“Children are also being denied compensation as they were forced into criminal acts a part of the grooming process. It is bad enough that a child has to endure a crime, but for them then to be punished by the State because of it is sickening.”