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Appletree Treatment Centre rape went unprosecuted

Appletree Treatment Centre rape went unprosecuted

A 12-year-old boy raped a fellow nine-year-old pupil but was never prosecuted due to a botched investigation by the school, an inquiry has found.

The abuse happened at Appletree Treatment Centre for vulnerable and abused children near Kendal, Cumbria, in 2006, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) said.

In 2007 the victim told a foster parent he was abused “maybe a 100 times”.

In evidence, the centre’s principal apologised for what had happened.

Appletree was one of five facilities examined by the independent inquiry, which has published the findings of its residential schools investigation.

‘Damaged backgrounds’

The centre is a small residential setting for children of primary school age who have been abused, neglected and excluded from school.

IICSA reported that in 2006, a staff member overheard one pupil accusing another of sexually abusing a boy who was a resident at the centre.

The inquiry found that “the matter was not immediately referred to the children’s social care”.

The children were interviewed by staff the following day and the referral was made the day after that.

‘Contaminating the evidence’

IICSA said “the fact that staff had interviewed the children was considered problematic by the local authority and the police”.

Cumbria Police interviewed the boys but no action was taken due to a number of factors, including their conflicting accounts and their “damaged backgrounds”.

The victim later told his foster parent about the abuse, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided to take no further action because the school “interviewing” the children had the effect of “contaminating the evidence”.

It added the perpetrator had admitted the offences, there were discrepancies in the accounts and that due to the way the school had gathered evidence from the pupils, a court would have “thrown it out anyway, if it had gone that far”.

During an inquiry hearing in 2019, Clair Davies, principal of Appletree, told counsel to the investigation Anna Bicarregui she was “very sorry for the sexual activity and sexual abuse that took place at Appletree”.

IICSA has been investigating claims against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces and public and private institutions – as well as people in the public eye.

Source: BBChttps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-60576703