BARRISTERS representing three men on trial for sexually assaulting a young girl more than 20 years ago have claimed it is a case of mistaken identity or the alleged victim is lying about the abuse.
The Masbrough men all deny indecent assaults allegedly committed between 1994 and 1995, when the complaint, now 35, was aged 12 or 13.
Sajid Ali (38), of James Street, is charged with seven counts, Zaheer Iqbal (40), St John's Avenue, five and Riaz Makhmood (39), of Falding Street, three.
Cross-examining the woman today (Tuesday), Glenn Parsons for Ali, said: “Like many people in Rotherham, you would have known about the issues in relation to Asian men and young girls, you would have seen about that in the media, yes?”
The complainant, now aged 35, answered: “Yes”.
Mr Parsons said: “By 2014 these allegations had been in the Rotherham community for a number of years.
“There was a large amount of media coverage over those years."
She answered: “I told my sister-in-law before it was all out in the media. Watching and seeing it on TV did make me want to come forward.”
Mr Parsons asked: “You were aware of allegations concerning Asian men and young girls in Rotherham before 2014?”
She answered: “Yeah, I suppose.”
He asked: “You had not seen any media coverage of that at all?
She answered: “Not that I recall.”
The barrister asked if she had seen the Panorama documentary about child sexual exploitation in Rotherham which he said had been aired on September 1, 2014 — four days before she reported her abuse to police.
The witness said she had seen the documentary but could not remember when.
The court heard the girl had initially thought Ali, who she knew as Sos, was her boyfriend.
Mr Parsons said around the time of the allegations Ali would have been around 15 and 16 and she had mistakenly identified him or “made it up”.
She repilied: “He was old enough to know better.”
The woman said she believed all the men had been aged around 19-20 at the time of the alleged abuse.
When Mr Parsons asked if the name Sos had been suggested to her before her police interview, she replied: “No, somebody didn't suggest it, it’s not something I would forget.”
Mr Parsons said the girl might have “drunk cider” in Masbrough and “might have been aware of something going on” but she had not been part of it and her abuse "never happened”.
The alleged victim replied: “It did happen, why would I say something like that.
“It’s ripped me apart even saying it. What have I got to gain from it, why would I say it?”
He replied: “One of the things that was said on a number of occasions by you was you felt the need for attention.”
The woman, who began crying, added: “It’s something I have had to live with all them years, for you to stand there and think I have made it up.”
Mr Parsons said she had never performed oral sex on Ali, to which she replied: “You’re going to say that. I know different.”
The woman said she had known Iqbal by the name of Booty and that he was small and smelt of smoke.
Andrew Dallas, for Iqbal, said: “You have given his name and picked somebody you said was Booty quite some time later when they (the police) eventually got round to doing an ID procedure with you.
“Apart from that, you can't remember anything else about him, for example where he lived or how old he was at the time?”
She answered: “He was about 19 or 20.”
Mr Dallas added: “I’m going to suggest Booty was a non-smoker and he was someone onthe fringes with people that used to hang around and not one of those who was a pal of Sos.
“He would pass by and stand and talk and you never had direct dealings at all.
“You were confused, the distinctive name of Booty and the distinctive situation is someone else.”
She answered: “I am not confused at all.”
Zaiban Alam, for Makhmood, said the first time the woman had mentioned her client by name was in her police interview in 2016.
Ms Alam said: “In that interview you told police his name was Raz or Razza.
“That was when you gave police the fifth account of these incidents — why could you not give his name to the police previously?”
She answered: “His face sticks in my mind even if his name doesn’t.”
The trial continues.