Rotherham Council ‘blackmailed’ a woman for speaking about being a victim of child sexual exploitation by threatening to take away her children, a court heard.
Sheffield Crown Court heard that one of 12 alleged victims had been told her children could be taken off her if she continued to do media interviews about her alleged experiences at the hands of defendant Arshid Hussain.
The woman, known as Girl J, told a jury that attempts were made to stop her speaking to the press by two social workers from the council.
The court heard The Times had published a front page story in August 2013 about the girl’s allegations headlined ‘Grooming scandal of child sex town’ after she had spoken to journalist Andrew Norfolk.
She said she had spoken to the police before the media but had a meeting with officers which she ‘didn’t find helpful at all’.
The woman, who is now 30 and alleges she was twice made pregnant by Hussain after he started having sex with her when she was 14, said: “The only reason the police started this investigation is because The Times printed my story.”
The court heard the woman did further media interviews to promote her campaigning work for victims of abuse.
She said: “At one point I was going to stop. I felt like I was being blackmailed by Rotherham Borough Council saying they were going to take my kids from me.
“But the more I did speak out, the more people did come forward and it was really helping the situation - things were improving.”
The woman said she had been spoken to about her contact with the media by two social workers.
She said: “I felt like they were saying because I had come forward I had put my kids at risk.”
The woman said the comments had felt ‘a little bit like blackmail’.
She said: “I had been asking them for years and years for help. Nobody wanted to know until I have come forward.”
The woman said she had rung the police about the matter but did not make a formal complaint against the social workers.
“I rang the police and explained the situation,” she said.
“I panicked and didn’t think it were fair someone was going to take my kids just because of what happened to me. They should just help me and support me.”
She said the police had tried to help her over the situation.
Hussain, 40, denies one charge of rape, three counts of indecent assault and two charges of abduction in relation to the complainant. He accepts fathering a child with her but says he believed she was 18 when they met.