Rotherham sex abuse survivor: "Victims should be pardoned for crimes"

By Gareth Dennison | 25/08/2017

Rotherham sex abuse survivor: 'Victims should be pardoned for crimes'
Sammy Woodhouse

A SURVIVOR has stepped up her campaign for CSE victims to be pardoned for crimes committed under the grasp of groomers.

Sammy Woodhouse has written to home secretary Amber Rudd to request a face-to-face meeting over her Sammy’s Law proposal.

Speaking three years after the damning Jay Report was published, she said the change would encourage more sexual exploitation survivors to seek justice without fear of being prosecuted themselves.

Sammy (32) was groomed from 14 and made pregnant by abuser Arshid Hussain, who was jailed for 35 years in 2016.

“Not only was Arshid mentally, sexually and physically abusing me, he was also grooming me to commit crime,” she said. 

“I was charged for some things when I was 14 and 15, including possessing an offensive weapon in a public place, common assault and ABH.

“I always thought this man was my boyfriend and he cared about me. 

“I didn’t see I was being groomed and he was getting me to commit crime to prevent me from reporting him.”

When Sammy finally came forward - 13 years after the abuse began - she was warned that her police interview would be under caution and she might still be charged.

“If I was charged and found guilty, I could have been sentenced to a long time in prison,” she said. “One lawyer said it could have been 102 years.

“I wanted justice and I made the decision to continue coming forward.

“But you can see that others would not want to for fear of being prosecuted, leaving sex criminals at large in our communities.

“Thankfully, the Crown Prosecution Service rightly decided it would not be in the public interest to charge me.”

In one case, police caught an underage Sammy in bed with Arshid. She was arrested for having a weapon in her bag which Hussain had made her look after.

“It’s still on my record,” she said. “If I was asked at a job interview, I’d have to bring up my past of being groomed and abused.”

Sammy’s Law would not see a blanket pardon and wiping of criminal records. It would take into account issues on a case by case basis, such as evidence of offending as a direct result of grooming and current risk to society.

Sammy said: “Sammy’s Law will not only encourage others to come forward and report abuse but it will enable survivors to finally move forward and have a future.”

Sammy’s campaign has won backing from the boss of Bedfordshire Police, for whom she has delivered awareness training.

Chief Con Jon Boutcher said: “Those vulnerable to being exploited by the will of others should not be criminalised when their offending is under the direction and control of an exploiting hand.

“Our focus should be on protecting vulnerable victims and chasing down their abusers.

“Sammy, and those like her who find the courage to step forward, should not fear prosecution for crimes committed under the influence and control of their abusers. That is why I support Sammy’s campaign.”



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