A multi-million pound investigation into the sexual exploitation of hundreds of teenagers in Rotherham will continue until as many potential victims as possible have been contacted, the National Crime Agency said as six more men were found guilty of a string of offences.
Masaued Malik (35), Aftab Hussain (40), Abid Saddiq (38), Sharaz Hussain (35), as well as two men aged 33 and 35 who can’t be named for legal reasons, were found guilty of 27 child sexual exploitation offences on Wednesday following an eight week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
The offences relate to the abuse of seven girls who were all under the age of 16 between 1998 and 2002 in Rotherham and the surrounding areas.
The girls, who were all vulnerable and craving attention and love, were deliberately targeted for the sole purpose of becoming sexual objects for the men., Sheffield Crown Court heard.
At the time, none of them had the maturity to understand they were being groomed and exploited, believing that sex was some kind of ‘necessary price’ for friendship.
They were given alcohol and drugs, belittled and passed around to other men for their gratification, and were vulnerable because of their need to be loved. All seven suffer the emotional effects of the abuse to this day.
All the men lived in Rotherham and the surrounding areas and associated with one another at the time the abuse took place. A feature of their sexual offending was they would often act as a group, happy to share girls around amongst each other.
Read more: Breaking news: Six men found guilty of string of sex offences on teenage girls in Rotherham
They knew the girls were underage and lacking in confidence and would regularly either park outside the girl’s schools waiting to engage them in conversation, or hang around at the local park, bus station or in Rotherham waiting for young girls to approach.
If the girls didn’t comply with the men’s sexual demands, they turned violent and the power exerted over the girls became more apparent. They were given drugs and alcohol and often raped by multiple offenders and they felt obliged to comply.
Operation Stovewood Senior Investigating Officer, Philip Marshall, said: “Today, six more men join the other 14 who have already been convicted of sexually abusing young girls in Rotherham, going back as far as 1997. They exploited vulnerable girls for their own sexual gratification and I am glad that today, they have been held accountable for their devastating actions.
Read more: The fight against historical child sexual exploitation in Rotherham
“The victims in this case have shown immense courage and bravery in re-living what happened to them and I would like to thank them for helping us bring their abusers to justice.
“I hope these convictions build confidence with the victims and survivors we are currently working with – and those who are yet to come forward – showing that we will listen to you and do all we can to get positive court outcomes.
“We still have a lot of work to do and are not complacent about the task we face – Stovewood is complex in its nature and scale but this will not diminish the pace of our effort.
“I would also like to thank partners for their support, particularly the Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs). The NCA remains committed to investigate all matters within our remit to bring child sex offenders to justice”.
Read more: The true extent of child sexual exploitation across Yorkshire revealed
Kate Hurst, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Each of these men knew the girls were either vulnerable and underage, and in some cases both, when they raped or sexually assaulted them. They were reckless and did not care if they were children or not.
"Some of the men used threats of violence and they often had sex with these children while they were drunk or high on drugs. They tried to deny their responsibility claiming that the victims were lying or that they did not know they were underage.
"Our team worked very closely with the NCA over a significant period of time during the course of this investigation in advising, building and preparing this case effectively for trial
“We were able to prove that these predators targeted and then abused girls in Rotherham for their own sexual satisfaction.”
The men have been remanded in custody and will be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday, September 30.