Settlement After Derbyshire Children’s Home Abuse in 1980s

Woman Speaks Out 30 years After She was Sexually Abused To Help Inspire Others

12.09.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

A victim of child abuse while in the custody of a Derbyshire children’s home during the 1980s has agreed an out-of-court settlement with the County Council, after being inspired to come forward from hearing other victims speak out.

The 43-year-old woman, known only as 'M' to protect her identity, was placed in Moorfield Children’s Home by Derbyshire County Council when she was in her early teens and was sexually abused in the mid 1980s on Christmas Day by an on-duty social worker.

At the time, she was accused of making the whole thing up by other staff at the home which left her feeling alone and isolated, but years later the abuser was jailed for several counts of sexual abuse.

Over 30 years since the incident, M gained the strength to speak out about the abuse after hearing other people share their experiences in light of the Jimmy Savile revelations. She instructed specialist abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help her to overcome the incident and seek justice on her behalf.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell worked with Derbyshire County Council to secure a £15,000 out-of-court settlement for M, which will help pay for specialist counselling she needs to help her to overcome issues she now faces with relationships and intimacy.

M was placed in Moorfield Children’s Home by the local authority in her early teens but was abused when she was around 14-years-old. She had to stay in the home on Christmas day as she was unable to go home to see her family.

She was watching TV when an on-duty social worker named Richard Carey entered the room and sat beside her. He then proceeded to sexually abuse her as a blanket placed over them concealed what was happening.
 
At the time M reported the abuse, but a limited investigation concluded that she had fabricated the story. Neither M’s social worker nor her parents were informed of the allegations and matters were dealt with behind closed doors.

It was reported that M was made to sign a document retracting the allegations. She then became isolated within the home and was not allowed to be left alone with any member of staff as they believed she had made up the allegations.

M said: “My time in the home was just terrible. After the investigation, no one would come near me and I couldn’t join in certain activities such as holidays and trips out. I became completely isolated and one member of staff even called me “a nasty little liar”, which was so hard to take.”

M tried to forget the whole thing and put the past behind her but in the 1990’s, she was contacted by police officers investigating further allegations of sexual abuse by another of Mr Carey's victims.

M gave evidence at the criminal trial and Mr Carey was imprisoned after pleading guilty to various sexual offences.
 
M sought legal advice following the criminal trial about a civil claim, but the law at that time imposed a strict time limit for bringing cases forward and hers was considered to be out of time. Since then, the law has changed so that historical cases can still be brought with the judge's discretion.

Chris Hurlston, a specialist abuse lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who represents M said: “Over thirty years after she suffered sexual abuse, M has finally got justice for what happened to her in that children's home.

“This is a horrific case of a vulnerable woman who was abused by a person of power in the 1980s in a children’s home. It is a story that is sadly not uncommon. The incident has had a tremendous impact on her life and she has had to live with the mental trauma for so many years.

“When the criminal trial came around, she was brave enough to speak out against her abuser and help ensure that he was convicted for his crimes.

“M is already coming to terms with what happened to her, and has been able to get on with her life as much as is possible in the circumstances. Now that we have been able to help her with a settlement, she will be able to pay for further specialist counselling in the future to help her continued recovery.”

M, who is now working as a care assistant, said: “After the huge setback of being accused of lying about the whole situation when I was young, it was a major step for me to give evidence at the criminal trial.

“I wanted to ensure others wouldn’t go through a similar ordeal, to ensure that my voice was heard this time around.

“The settlement will now help me move on to the next stage of my life and will mean I can get further specialist help and advice on issues that just wouldn’t be affecting me if it wasn’t for the abuse. It has been a weight on my shoulders for so long and I have battled to make a success of my life.

“I’m incredibly inspired by people who have the courage to speak up about abuse they have suffered and hope that letting people know what happened to me might inspire others to help come to terms with what has happened to them. I am lucky to now have the support of my two children and they have been a great help in dealing with everything over the past few years.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in abuse claims.