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Apology for saying child sex abuse victim 'consented'

Apology for saying child sex abuse victim 'consented'

A child sexual abuse victim has been given an apology from the government's victim compensation agency after it previously ruled he had consented. Twenty-one men were convicted of abusing the man from the age of 13. The man has now been told he is eligible for compensation after his application had originally been rejected by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (Cica).The Ministry of Justice says similar cases are now being reviewed. The man - known as HND - had applied to Cica for compensation but Human rights charity Liberty said that was rejected in November 2015, after it was ruled he had consented to the sexual assaults.
HND's appeal against that decision was due to be heard later this month but Cica chief executive Carole Oatway has now written to him to apologise for the way his case was handled.In the letter, she said: "I am firmly of the view that you are eligible for compensation. "It is clear that advantage was taken of your age and vulnerability for the purpose of sexual abuse."
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HND's father welcomed the decision but said "it should never have come to this".He added: "Having spent years coming to terms with what happened to him and that it was not his fault, my son was told by a state body that it was".The decision comes after Cica issued new guidelines to its staff on grooming cases.Debaleena Dasgupta, Liberty's lawyer who represented HND, said her client: "Should be extremely proud of having triggered changes that will hopefully stop other children and young people going through this. "None of this would have been possible without his tenacity and strength."In July, the government promised an urgent review of cases where Cica had rejected claims as victims were deemed to have consented.A coalition of charities, including Barnardos, Victim Support and Liberty, said a Freedom of Information request had revealed that since the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme was launched in November 2012, nearly 700 child victims of sexual abuse had been refused payments.
Sammy Woodhouse was among those child sex abuse victims initially denied compensation
The Ministry of Justice estimates around 30 cases per year have been refused compensation on consent grounds.Sammy Woodhouse, who was abused by the leader of a child grooming gang in Rotherham, was among those who were initially denied compensation.Cica said Ms Woodhouse, who was 14 when the grooming started, said she "consented". But it later overturned its decision.It is illegal to have sexual activity with anyone under 16 but the authority does not automatically make payments to all victims.Cica said its new guidance was developed to ensure young sexual abuse survivors get the support they are entitled to "even where sexual activity appears consensual".The charities said the new guidelines will help to protect victims' rights but they can "only interpret a broken scheme" and want the whole system to be reviewed.
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