A traumatised woman who was raped by a member of a grooming gang and became pregnant with his child was left ‘extremely distressed’ after social workers tried to help him get in contact with her son.
In the ‘perverse’ decision by the unnamed local authority, staff approached a jailed sex attacker and offered him help to be involved in his son’s upbringing, without notifying his mother.
An investigation by The Times found the council notified the man he could seek visits from his child in jail and could apply for his family to have custody of the boy.
Campaigners said the offer could ‘retraumatise’ his victim who lives in Northern England.
Details over her location have been withheld to protect the mother whose case featured in the trial of several men of Pakistani origin were found guilty of dozens of sex offences.
The mother and her child were involved in court proceedings when she was told the man who raped her was being given the chance to be involved in proceedings
Baroness Newlove, the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, has criticised the local authority
The Ministry of Justice is investigating whether or not this was a systematic failing – or an error by a social worker after the father was told he could see the child he conceived through rape
The victim told The Times she was informed she may have to face him in court next year.
Her case came to light when her son, who has complex needs, was at the centre of a case in which the council sought a care order – with approval of his mother.
Ordinarily anyone with parental rights over the child would be contacted – but the man was never named on the child’s birth certificate and was jailed for the attack.
‘I was gobsmacked,’ the victim said.
Louise Haigh MP for Sheffield Heeley and Shadow Policing Minister said there was potential for the man to ‘retraumatise his victim’
‘The council knew what he did to me and to other vulnerable girls. They knew he was behind bars and a risk to my son, who wanted nothing to do with him, but they bent over backwards to include him in the case. I felt angry and scared for my son.’
The decision has been met with fury and will be investigated.
Baroness Newlove, the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, said: ‘This appears to be a case in which a victim of the worst sexual violence faced the prospect of continuing to be abused by her perpetrator, this time via the family courts.’
Louise Haigh, the shadow police and crime minister, said: ‘They handed him an invitation to retraumatise his victim. No man who has fathered a child through abuse or rape should have the right to apply for custody or visitation rights in the family courts.’
The boy’s father was listed as a ‘respondent’ in the case, despite having in no contact with the parental family and the child himself not indicating an interest in knowing his father.
The Ministry of Justice is investigating whether or not this was a systematic failing – or an error by a social worker.