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Ruby spoke to BBC Newsnight about how she was groomed and abused by a gang for four years from the age of 12
By Victoria Derbyshire, Sean Clare & Hollie Cole
BBC News

A victim of a Rochdale grooming gang has said she was raped more than 100 times from the age of 12 and felt “let down” by police.

Ruby also told BBC Newsnight police took her aborted foetus away for DNA testing without telling her.

Former detective Maggie Oliver said that years after Ruby’s abuse, child sexual exploitation was still happening across the country.

The BBC has contacted Greater Manchester Police (GMP) for a response.

A spokesperson from Rochdale Borough Council said it was “deeply sorry” that it “failed to take the necessary action to protect children from abuse” at the time Ruby was sexually abused.

Ruby said she wanted to help other abused children who need to “feel listened to and heard” when they report the crime to police.

She has called for counselling to be offered after police interviews.

In January, a review revealed girls in Rochdale were “left at the mercy” of paedophile grooming gangs for years because of failings by senior police and council bosses.

It focussed on 111 cases in the town from 2004 to 2013 and set out a series of failed investigations by GMP, identifying 96 men still deemed a potential risk to children.

Warning: Some readers might find the following report distressing

Ruby, whose real name cannot be revealed for legal reasons, said the abuse started after some older men invited her and her friends to a takeaway and a flat for food and drinks.

For a few weeks that was all that happened.

But one day at the flat “they wouldn’t let us in the room” because other people were in there, she said.

“They gave us a litre of vodka with no mixer and 10 fags. So by the time we went in the other room, we were all really drunk.”

‘Became numb’

Ruby said there were about “30 to 40 men waiting for us” and then “they raped me… continuously”.

“One would finish [raping me] and then the other one would come in and it was just like that all night.”

She said the abuse continued because the gang threatened her and she felt “there was no way out”.

“They’d get our numbers, they’d come to the schools, they’d come near my house, they’d come everywhere and they’d look for us and find us.”

She said was she raped “possibly over a hundred [times]” by men “from all over the country” for four years.

“There was men from Bradford and Nelson and Birmingham, Blackpool… [the gang] took us everywhere,” she said.

“I feel like I just became numb to it.”

Child sexual exploitation is still happening in Rochdale and across the country, Maggie Oliver says

In 2008, Ruby went to a sexual health clinic, which she said was a “cry for help because there was nobody else to help us”.

“We told schools, and social services knew what was happening. Again, nothing happened, so we went there, but we were given flavoured condoms and sent away.”

The review confirmed that Ruby had previously disclosed to the Crisis Intervention Team that she had older boyfriends giving her vodka and sexually abusing her.

In that same year, she was placed on a child protection plan, and the police were aware of her situation by the start of 2009.

Ruby had an abortion when she was 13 and GMP took possession of the foetus to forensically examine it for potential DNA matches with suspects in an investigation.

The review said it was “highly unacceptable” that Ruby was not told police had taken it.

She said she was later approached by the force to ask if she wanted a funeral for the aborted foetus.

In 2010, Ruby told a social worker about her ongoing abuse by six older Asian men, the review said.

She also made disclosures to social services about the wide-scale abuse of children by up to 60 men.

Two years later, one of the men who abused her was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Ruby told BBC Newsnight she felt “let down” by GMP and wants other victims to be “listened to”

But just four years on from that, Ruby saw him in a local shop. She said she had not been told about his release from jail.

“At first I double looked because I didn’t really believe what I’d seen. Then, when it hit me he’s there, I ran,” she said.

“Then I just went home and I didn’t leave the house for like three months after that.”

Ruby said she phoned GMP and “they did nothing”, adding: “I was a mess.”

The review, which examined GMP’s investigations into child sexual exploitation over nine years, found the force had considered the crime a low-risk priority.

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If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, help and support is available via BBC Action Line.

Maggie Oliver resigned from GMP in 2012 over the poor handling of the abuse cases and established a foundation to support victims.

She said child sexual exploitation was still happening in Rochdale and her foundation heard from victims “throughout the country”.

“Victims today are telling me the same things that Ruby and those children told me 12 years ago,” Ms Oliver said.

“I think the public knows what’s going on, but I still think that the police and social services are pretending that lessons have been learned.”

Former detective Maggie Oliver resigned from GMP to expose the force’s mistakes

Ruby has called for more support for child victims of sexual abuse and said they should be offered psychological help after police interviews.

“I want every child who goes through the doors of the police station and reports sexual abuse to feel listened to and heard,” she said.

“I feel that there’s a lot of emotions going on. Instead of taking it home with them and just having to figure it out on [their] own [they should be] put in a room with a professional, so they can speak about the trauma.”

A spokesperson from Rochdale Borough Council said: “We are deeply sorry that the people who were at Rochdale Council during the period 2004 to 2013, like many other areas of the country, did not recognise or acknowledge what was happening and failed to take the necessary action to protect children from abuse.

“Far more rigorous practices are in place today and we are determined to ensure these terrible failures do not happen again.”

The BBC has contacted a GMP spokeswoman for comment.

Watch Ruby’s story on BBC Newsnight on BBC2 at 22:30 GMT and on BBC iPlayer.

Why not follow BBC North West on Facebook, X and Instagram? You can also send story ideas to northwest.newsonline@bbc.co.uk

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