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A grooming gang was jailed for sexually abusing vulnerable young girls in Rotherham yesterday, as a judge criticised the "totally ineffectual" authorities for failing to protect the victims.
Seven girls, all under 16 at the time, were plied with alcohol and drugs and threatened with violence by five predatory men who used them as "sexual objects" between 1998 and 2002, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
Some of the victims were raped by multiple gang members in the South Yorkshire town and the surrounding areas, with one telling jurors: "They took my childhood away".
Judge Michael Slater said that after presiding over the five-week trial, he was "quite satisfied" that the "relevant authorities" in Rotherham were aware of how vulnerable girls were being targeted for sexual exploitation.
He described their inaction as a "lamentable state of affairs", saying they were at best "totally ineffectual" and, at worst, "wholly indifferent", the BBC said.
The case was the latest to arise out of Operation Stovewood - the massive National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation into the sexual exploitation of teenagers in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
Abid Saddiq, 38, described as a "cunning and determined sexual predator", was jailed for 20 years after being found guilty of two counts of rape, five counts of indecent assault and two counts of child abduction.
Aftab Hussain, 40, was jailed for 24 years after being found guilty of two counts of indecent assault. Sharaz Hussain, 35, was jailed for four years after being found guilty of one count of indecent assault.
Masaued Malik, 35, was jailed for five years after being found guilty of one count of indecent assault.
A fifth man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for 10 years after found guilty of indecent assault and two counts of child abduction
A total of 20 men have now been convicted as a result of Operation Stovewood and the NCA has said it believes 1,510 people were victims in Rotherham.