Allegations have been rumbling recently about a "VIP" paedophile ring that sexually abused and murdered young boys in the 1960s and 1970s. The abuse is alleged to have been perpetrated at a number of locations across London and the home counties, including at military premises. These allegations have been made by a witness, known by the pseudonym Nick, who is a survivor of the abuse and a witness to three murders.
Yesterday, for the first time, Scotland Yard said in a press conference that the claims made by Nick were "credible and true." Det Supt Kenny McDonald, who is leading the inquiry sparked by Nick's allegations of sexual abuse and murder, said that he had been interviewed by detectives experienced in child abuse cases, and they concluded that his account was true.
It is heartening that Nick has come forward with his testimony, even decades after the event. Often the trauma and fear caused by abuse make it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to disclose the events until years after the fact. Many of our clients come to us decades after the abuse ended. They have felt too ashamed, too self-loathing, too terrified to tell anyone about what has happened to them. Our experience is that justice can still be served after a long wait, and the unfolding of Nick’s story so far reinforces that experience.
Perhaps more encouraging, though, is that a large, credible institution like Scotland Yard has publicly backed the testimony of a survivor. Wherever allegations of abuse surface, especially when it happened long ago, many doubt and discredit the survivor. Institutions that supposedly have a duty of care often distance themselves from the people that most need their help. This is common in historic abuse cases in the UK, too: institutions like the Catholic Church are painfully slow to recognise the truth of the survivor's allegations; usually, they never do.
The fact that Scotland Yard has chosen to publicly support Nick is unusual, and should be an example for every institution dealing with child sexual abuse - don't dismiss the survivor.