An interview with Alan, a regular host of HJ Talks About Abuse, and one of the best known and most experienced solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation. He discusses the high profile cases he’s worked on including the Jimmy Savile and Jersey abuse scandals.

Get to know our new senior associate, Kathleen Hallisey in the latest episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast. Feleena and Kathleen discuss Kathleen’s passion for helping vulnerable people to combat institutional abuse, and her big move from the US to practice law in the UK.

Read the full story here: https://www.hughjames.com/blog/introducing-kathleen-hallisey

A discussion about the recent Hugh James/NSPCC Abuse conference specifically looking at Prof. Michael Salter's talk on issues of consent when victims appear to be 'enjoying' themselves.

In this podcast Alan Collins; Feleena Grosvenor and Danielle Vincent discuss the report out of Westminster concerning the drop in rape prosecutions.

The report recommends that in order to reverse the trend Specialist rape investigation teams should be installed in every police force in England and Wales.

Reported rapes are at an all-time high, while prosecutions fell by 70% in the past four years, MPs said.

Further that police investigations should be focussed on suspects as opposed to victims but what could that mean in practice? The Abuse Team point out that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. It has to prove  the case beyond reasonable doubt and so it is curious as to how this would play out in practice? There have of course been high profile cases where there have been acquittals following emergence of evidence that discredited the prosecution case.

The Team discuss whether some fundamental issues have yet to be addressed for example consent which is not, perhaps, really understood by too many in society and indeed those in the justice system.

The question is asked by the Team whether there was better education on consent then maybe  there would not be so many sexual assaults, and where there are a better conviction rate. What is jury supposed to do when what they are being told is all over the place? We know that victims can be so traumatised that they cannot speak let alone explain at the time and subsequently.

The MPs in their report said they were  "deeply concerned" by reports victims were avoiding accessing mental health support because they feared records of their therapy sessions could be disclosed to the defence and used to undermine their case. They further  said new guidance on pre-trial therapy should be published as soon as possible. The Crown Prosecution Service said it recognised many victims felt let down by the criminal justice process.

The team discuss the  concern that there has always been that therapy records would be used by the defence to discredit the victim. We see this in civil cases. Defendants and their lawyers routinely seek sight of medical records. There are looking for something to use. This is very intrusive often unnecessary and there should be more judicial toughness on this than there has been.

New "fundamental principles" on pre-trial therapy published by the CPS say police must request specific information when requesting therapy notes for an investigation, not make "unfocused requests". And they say therapy notes must only be disclosed to the defence when they might be considered to undermine the prosecution case or help the defence.

The team wonder how that will help in practice? Supposing the defendant knows something of the victim’s past, but only a little detail which may or may not be relevant: could it be a fishing expedition?.

Of course people today live their lives to a significant extent on-line texting and dare we say it “sexting”. What may seem private and ok turns out later to be far more significant than thought of at the time.

Among the recommendations in the MPs' report were that:

  • The government should make it clear that every police force should have a specialist rape investigation team, as at least 40% of forces in England and Wales currently do not
  • Ministers should consider creating a dedicated commissioner to represent the interests of victims of sexual violence, or expanding the role of an existing commissioner
  • More victims should be given independent legal advocates to support them with requests for personal data, applications to refer to their sexual history in court or applications to access records of their counselling or therapy sessions
  • There should be greater support for long-term counselling and therapy
  • Police must be given the funding to get the equipment and skills to ensure rape victims do not have their phones removed for evidence-gathering for more than 24 hours

The team conclude by remarking will be interesting to see how this pans out but we are all agreed that what is necessary is:

  1. Proper funding
  2. Education
  3. Better and meaningful support for victims

If you need any help or advice, please visit our Abuse website page.

In this episode of HJ Talks about Abuse, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor discuss two very different cases which give rise to civil liability.

 

Mark Page

Mark Page is a former Radio 1 DJ and stadium announcer.

At the time of the offences, Mr Page worked as a managing director of armed forces radio station Garrison FM. He travelled to the Philippines regularly as part of this role and used it as a cover to meet young children.

Mr Page used webcam to contact victims before travelling to meet them in person in the Philippines.

He was convicted of two counts of abuse by using a webcam linking his home to the Philippines in 2016 and two more of offences while visiting the country in 2016 and 2019.

In this case, Mr Page tried to haggle down the price for a sexual encounter with a 13 year old boy and 12 year old girl from 3,000 pesos, around £44. He stated that the price was too expensive.

This case demonstrates significant pre-meditation and the abuse of a position whereby he could visit the Philippines without suspicion.

The Philippines is a place of poverty and it is estimated that 60,000 children in the Philippines have been forced into prostitution to survive.

The Hugh James abuse team have previously successfully pursued a case against a British citizen who travelled to the Philippines to commit sexual offences against children.

For those listening who work with victim’s who have been abused abroad, there may be a civil claim to pursue.

 

 

Hannah Harris

Hannah Harris was a teaching assistant in Hertfordshire.

Ms Harris has been found guilty of having sex with a boy who was a 14 year old pupil.

The case shows significant premeditation due to the fact that Ms Harris had contact with the boy’s parents and created a fictional story whereby she had a daughter who was the girlfriend of the boy she was abusing.

This case also illustrates an abuse of position. Ms Harris groomed the boy whilst at school and progressed matters outside of school.

Ms Harris’ actions give rise to civil liability, but it also raises the question of any liability of the school. In this case, we do not have enough facts to determine this but in general terms there are instances whereby a school will be liable for the abuse of its teachers.

For those listening who work with victim’s who have been abused by employees, there may be a civil claim to pursue and against an employer.

 

For those listening who work with victims subjected to similar offences, there may be a civil claim to pursue in the UK even if the abuse occurred abroad. There also may be liability of a school or other organisation depending on the circumstances. It is essential that you contact experienced legal representation to obtain legal advice. You can contact Alan Collins or Feleena Grosvenor at Alan.Collins@hughjames.com and Feleena.Grosvenor@hughjames.com.

 

 

Mark Page: Former Radio 1 DJ guilty of child sex offences - BBC News

Hoddesdon teaching assistant who had sex with pupil jailed - BBC News

Teaching assistant, 23, jailed after having sex with 14-year-old pupil in supermarket car park and pretending to be mother of pupil's fake girlfriend (gbnews.uk)

Does feeling physical pleasure while being abused equate to implied consent? In this episode, Alan and Prof Michael Salter this often taboo question.

It might be assumed that victim experiences of sexual violence are characterised by fear and pain, and while this is true for many, this is more complex than we like to think. Increasingly, sexuality research is recognising that people can desire and have a positive regard toward sexual encounters that they do not consent or agree to, however there is limited scholarship examining victim experiences of pleasure or arousal during sexual violence.

Alan and Michael discuss :

  • How victim arousal or pleasure in the context of non-consensual sexual activity is often conflated with consent by victims, perpetrators and bystanders.
  • Victims whose experiences of sexual violence are complicated by pleasurable physical or emotional dimensions can experience significant shame and self-blame, which inhibits disclosure and help-seeking.
  • Sexuality education and sexual assault prevention strategies should recognise and address the distinctions between arousal, pleasure and consent.

The discussion is based on a research paper prepared by Prof Salter and Hyun Ji Shin which draws on a thematic analysis of 50 posts describing the experience of arousal and/or pleasure during sexual violence drawn from Reddit, the popular online discussion board. The findings highlight the importance of distinguishing between physiological arousal, psychological pleasure and consent, and the significant shame and self-blame of survivors who feel that an aroused or pleasurable response implicates them in their own assault. The paper closes by reflecting on the importance of distinguishing between consent, arousal and pleasure in sexual violence policy and practice, and recognising that arousal and pleasure are features of non-consensual as well as consensual encounters.1

Only by discussing such a difficult and sensitive subject might we be able to fully understand what consent means, and how damaging misconceptions and ignorance of the issue can be.

  1. Shin, H. and Salter, M. (2022) Betrayed by my body: survivor experiences of sexual arousal and psychological pleasure during sexual violence, Journal of Gender-Based Violence, vol XX, no XX, 1–15, DOI: 10.1332/239868021X16430290699192

In this podcast Alan talks with Antonia Sobocki who is heading the LOUDfence campaign in the UK.

This campaign has had great success in raising awareness of child abuse around the world but somehow missed the UK which Antonia aims to rectify. She explains how it started in Australia and how she is now successfully spreading the campaign throughout the country.

The campaign ties ribbons and messages in public places to raise awareness of child abuse and Antonia tells how a survivor was moved to tears when seeing the tag with her name and age when she was abused that Antonia had tied onto railings for her.

 

We thought listeners might be interested to hear about the project and may also wish to have their abuse acknowledged in the same way.

 

We hear how Antonia was motivated to take positive action having experienced in her church disengagement with victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the face of serious allegations, and successful prosecutions of abusers. She talks of her experience in how culture encourages rejection of survivors, but how this might be changing in light of campaigns such as LOUDfence, and how church leaders see the need for engagement

You can see some of the ribbons that Antonia has made on twitter (@ASobocki) and also a bit more about the project here https://survivorsvoices.org/activism/loudfence/.

In this podcast Alan Collins discusses with Mark Kavenagh from ECPAT on-line child abuse in Uganda in the wake  of new  research delivered by ECPAT, INTERPOL, and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, funded through the End Violence Partnership’s Safe Online Initiative, Disrupting Harm in Uganda is an evidence-led report that outlines the harrowing realities of online child sexual exploitation and abuse in Uganda. 

Key findings in the Disrupting Harm in Uganda report include:

  • Boys and girls were equally likely to experience online child sexual exploitation and abuse. The survey of 1,016 internet-using children found that similar proportions of boys and girls are subjected to differing forms of online child sexual exploitation and abuse, such as grooming or being offered gifts or money in exchange for sexual images or videos.
  • 98% of official reports of sexual offences to the Uganda Police Force were made by girls. Only 2% of official reports in defilement cases were made by boys between 2017-2019. As boys are experiencing online child sexual exploitation and abuse at the same rate as girls, this may suggest that boys are not reporting their abuse. 
  • Too many children are not reporting for fear of stigma or belief it will not lead to change. 
    • 1/3rd of children surveyed in Uganda who had experienced online child sexual exploitation and abuse did not tell anyone about their experiences. 
    • Common reason for not reporting incidents of online child sexual exploitation and abuse was "not knowing where to go or whom to tell."
    • 10% of the surveyed children were offered money or gifts for sexual images or videos of themselves in the past year. 31% of those children didn’t tell anyone about it. 
    • 9% of children surveyed said that they had sexual images of themselves shared without their consent in the past year. This represents approximately 215,000 children in Uganda. 
  • Child advocate professionals said victim blaming by the police sometimes deterred children from reporting
    • Law enforcement, the justice system, and social services lack awareness, capacity, and resources to respond to cases of online child sexual abuse and exploitation. Some important online child sexual exploitation and abuse-related legislation, policies, and standards are not yet enacted in Uganda.
    • Some children interviewed for Disrupting Harm in Uganda said that reporting processes were re-traumatising because children were required to re-tell their traumatic experiences throughout the process.
    • In Uganda from 2017 to 2019, our interviews illustrated that children were rarely able to bring cases to justice through the court system.   

Alan and Mark discuss broader issues in society which may inhibit reporting.

The Disrupting Harm in Uganda provides actionable recommendations for the government, lawmakers, industry, and other actors in Uganda to strengthen the national prevention and response to this crime. 

Key actions include:

  • The Government of Uganda to adopt the National Plan of Action to prevent and respond to online child sexual abuse and exploitation. 
  • Develop education programmes with children that reflect their perspectives of online risks, and techniques they can use to keep themselves safe.
  • Properly define and criminalise all forms of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. 
  • Review the Child Online Protection Handbook and disseminate it widely to ensure a common understanding of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. 
  • Accede to the Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection adopted by the African Union in 2014. 
  • Establish and maintain a connection to INTERPOL’s ICSE database. Adequately investigate international online child sexual exploitation and abuse referrals. Put an effective hotline in place with access to hotlines in other countries. 
  • Develop detailed ethical guidelines for police on how to interview children. Ensure that both specialised male and female officers are recruited and available whenever required. 
  • Develop guidelines on child-friendly and victim- friendly justice. Guarantee that child victims do not have to face offenders in court, and that online child sexual exploitation and abuse cases are heard without undue delays. 
  • Legally oblige internet service providers to retain data, filter/block/take down child sexual abuse materials and comply promptly with law enforcement requests for information. 

Alan and Mark also discuss and explore what other countries can learn from the Ugandan experience and, also, about how e can learn from survivors.

About Disrupting Harm 

In early 2019, the End Violence Partnership, through its Safe Online initiative, invested $7 million to develop Disrupting Harm, a holistic and innovative research project that aims to better understand how digital technology facilitates the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. 

Safe Online brought together and funded three organisations – ECPATINTERPOL and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti – to undertake new research in 13 countries across Eastern and Southern Africa and Southeast Asia. This type of holistic research and assessment is new and unique. The methodology developed for these assessments has been implemented across the 13 countries and can be used by other countries in the future. 

About Disrupting Harm in Uganda

Data collection took place from early 2020 through to early 2021 with the cooperation of the Government of Uganda and a wide range of public bodies and other organizations active in the country. A comprehensive analysis was made of the legislation, policy and systems addressing online child sexual exploitation and abuse in Uganda. 

A range of statistical data was gathered for 2017-2019. Surveys were conducted with internet-using children and their caregivers in early 2021, and front-line service providers from private and civil society in late 2020. Interviews were held with high-level government officials, law enforcement officials, justice professionals, and child victims of online child sexual abuse and exploitation and their caregivers. In addition, trauma-informed expert practitioners led several unstructured one-on-one conversations with survivors of online child sexual abuse and exploitation. 

The analysis for Disrupting Harm in Uganda was finalised in May 2021. The recommendations were discussed further at a national consultation on 19 August 2021.

Full report can be read here: https://www.end-violence.org/disrupting-harm#country-reports 

(*) Definition of OCSEA: 
Online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) refers to situations involving digital, internet and communication technologies at some point during the continuum of abuse or exploitation. OCSEA can occur fully online or through a mix of online and in-person interactions between offenders and children. 

Alan and barrister Justin Levinson of 1 Crown Office Row discuss the recent conviction of ex BBC Radio 1 DJ Mark Page of child sex offences.

Justin has a second to none reputation for representing survivors of childhood sexual in their claims for compensation. He and Alan have worked together on some of the most famous if not infamous cases of recent times including for example that of Jimmy Savile.

Page had been convicted of sexually abusing children in the Philippines. He did so by means of using webcam and, also, by travelling out to the Philippines.

Alan and Justin discuss how UK courts have jurisdiction in such cases where at first blush it might be thought impossible to bring such a case before an English court. They explain how they were able to successfully bring a claim for compensation on behalf of the Filipino victims of Douglas Slade – a British expat, in the High Court in London.

They explain how practical and logistical challenges need to be considered and overcome when bringing claims for compensation in the English High Court when the victims reside, perhaps, on the other side of the world.

Justin explains how victims and those assisting him must be conscious of time limits for bringing claims, and why it so important to seek legal advice as soon as practicable.

Alan explains how a claim can be brought in certain circumstances even if there has been a prosecution of the abuser in a non-UK court, and he and Justin go on to discuss various cases where they have been successful in obtaining compensation for victims in many varied parts of the world.

Finally Justin explains why it is important for victims to seek compensation, and what it can mean to them by often transforming their lives.

This week we talk about sexual assault allegations made by Tiktok star Jack Wright against Sienna Mae Gomez.

We are very aware in the generation we are living in, social media influencers are making a living from creating social content such as on tiktok. For some this is a full time career. The two parties in this matter, who are both 18 years old are hugely popular in California with a mass following of already over 23 million followers

The background of these allegations were that the two school friends, began dating and featured in each others tiktok videos. However, rumours of sexual assault carried out by Sienna began to circle in May 2021.

Sienna denied she had sexually assaulted Jack but lost over 500,000 followers almost overnight.

Jack Wright was filmed allegedly unconscious on a sofa with Sienna sitting on his lap kissing him and touching his genitals whilst  as stated he is seemingly incapacitated. She has disputed the video authenticity and states this has been heavily doctored and is a distortion of what happened.

Jack has now filmed a video of tiktok talking about sexual assault and the reaction online to this. This has already had over 8 million views since January 8th 2022. He states he was kissed and repeatedly touched whilst unconscious and would break into his home at night, he would wake up to find her in his bed with his penis in her hand. Such allegations have been denied by Sienna’s representation.

This news story raises many issues which we often discuss. We live in a world where social media is used more and more.  Both these individuals will have young impressionable followers (as noted millions of followers). Had Jack not spoken out would this normalise such behaviour? Would this prevent others coming forward in similar circumstances.

There were many disturbing comments regarding the fact it could not be sexual assault if they were in a relationship.

The main point here in this matter is consent, which is clearly where they dispute what took place.

This is likely to impact Sienna’s career potentially beyond repair from a video she states is doctored. Again, we have discussed advances in technology with deep fakes and editing to a level where things can be easily distorted.

Again, it also questions what social media safeguarding should be put in place for content, especially when it can be viewed by millions in an instance.

We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at  Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com.

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