Former Sheffield council worker, 81, jailed over historic abuse

Roger Dodds
Roger Dodds

A former Sheffield Council education worker who sexually abused students and colleagues was jailed for 16 years yesterday after a call to the NSPCC triggered an investigation into historic allegations.

It was revealed that Roger Dodds, 81, had used his position working with schools in the 1970s through to the 1990s to force students to engage in sexual acts in order to secure grant payments.

We have accepted responsibility and would never defend the indefensible.

Jayne Ludlum, executive director for children, young people and families at Sheffield Council

Victims described the lasting impact of the abuse and one spoke about how council colleagues told him to keep quiet.

Another said: “People in the council knew but they chose to do nothing about it. I even think at times the council are more responsible than he was.”

An independent investigation, carried out after an accusation was made in 2008, found failures in how the council dealt with complaints against Dodds.

Yesterday its executive director for children, young people and families said the council was “deeply sorry” that Dodds had committed the offences while in its employment.

Jayne Ludlum said: “Our thoughts go out to his victims, whose bravery in coming forward has resulted in Dodds’ conviction and subsequent sentencing.

“We are glad to see that, finally, such cases of historic abuse are coming before the courts, justice is being done, and victims are having their voices heard.

“Despite the fact that this happened more than a quarter of a century ago, we have accepted responsibility and would never defend the indefensible.”

She added that all recommendations made in the independent report, commissioned by the council, were implemented fully.

Dodds, of Cotswold Road, Hillsborough, was charged with sexual assault in 2016 after a two-year investigation.

He later admitted four counts of indecent assault on a man aged 16 or over and one count of indecent assault on a boy aged under 14, for which he was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court.

The charges relate to five separate victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

In a victim impact statement read out to the court, one said: “I went in complete trust to the council buildings to pick up expenses that I needed. What happened to me in those council offices shaped my view about myself and other people.”

Despite complaints made to South Yorkshire Police in 2008, the Crown Prosecution Service had previously decided not to take Dodds to court.

After the sentencing, Detective Constable Stephen Howson said: “Today marks the culmination of a lengthy police investigation into Dodds’ sexual abuse of multiple victims, which spanned the 1970s to 1990s. Our inquiry began in 2014, after we received information from one victim who bravely reported abuse to the NSPCC.

“I hope the positive result at court today encourages other victims of sexual abuse to come forward and talk to someone. We will always investigate reports of this nature.”