Five people have received lengthy sentences for the sexual abuse of teenage girls in the English town of Rotherham. The perpetrators sexually assaulted and repeatedly raped the victims, who were as young as 11.
Receiving a total jail term of 102 years, the gang of five - along with a six person who received a suspended sentence - were told by a British judge on Friday that they'd caused harm of "unimaginable proportions."
"The impact of your offending upon the victims, their families and indeed the wider community has been devastating," judge Sarah Wright added during sentencing at Sheffield Crown Court. "Their childhood and adolescence can never be reclaimed. Each has suffered immense psychological harm."
Sixteen years of abuse
The court heard how the three British-Asian brothers, their uncle and two Caucasian women had groomed and sexually abused 15 girls between 1987 and 2003.
Gang ringleader Arshid Hussain was jailed for 35 years while his brothers Basharat and Bannaras were sentenced to 25 and 19 years, respectively. Their uncle Qurban Ali got 10 years for conspiracy to rape while female accomplice Karen MacGregor was jailed for 13 years for similar charges.
A sixth defendant, Shelley Davies, will serve an 18-month suspended jail term.
Victims scarred for life
Prosecution lawyers said the brothers, who were drug dealers, had "ruled Rotherham" through violence and fear, using their position to rape and assault girls, and forcing many of them into prostitution.
Prosecutor Michelle Colborne added that their victims had been left feeling "dirty, ashamed and guilty" and had "a plethora of emotional conditions - eating disorders, self-harm, agoraphobia and self-loathing." Several of them had terminated unwanted pregnancies.
Wider abuse scandal
The gang's sentences are the first successful prosecutions as part of a wider 2014 inquiry into at least 1,400 cases of child sex abuse in the former industrial town of Rotherham over the past two decades.
In a scandal that shocked the nation, it was revealed that most of the victims had been abducted, raped and beaten by gangs of predominantly Asian men.
Over a third of the girls were in social care and thus meant to be protected by the state.
Local authorities and the police have been accused of failing to investigate the long-term abuse of teenagers amid fears their accusations may have been interpreted as racist.
Twenty-six officers from the local South Yorkshire Police are under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over their handling of the scandal.
mm/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)