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COUNCIL SUED OVER SEX ALLEGATIONS

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The family of a man with Down's Syndrome who was allegedly subjected to sexual and physical abuse at a council-run ...
The family of a man with Down's Syndrome who was allegedly subjected to sexual and physical abuse at a council-run care home are suing Wiltshire CC, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p15).

Solicitors acting for the 40-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have issued a high court writ against the council for allegedly allowing his abuse at Rutland House, Trowbridge, to continue for two years. Campaigners for mentally disabled people say the case highlights a wider problem.

Voice UK, a charity that counsels disabled victims of sexual abuse, said: 'This case is horrific, but it's the tip of the iceberg. Research shows that more than 1,500 people with learning disabilities are sexually abused each year, yet only three out of every 100 cases end in a conviction'.

The writ on behalf of the victim names his abuser as Michael Carr, a supervisor at the care home. He was sacked by the county council after an internal inquiry ruled that he had abused the man while other staff did nothing to stop it. In its submission to the court, however, the council is now denying that Mr Carr abused the man and does not accept it has a duty of care for those placed under its supervision at its care homes.

The man's family is suing for hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation. His mother, a 72-year-old GP, and his sister, a 36-year-old solicitor, are angry that the council has so far failed to apologise for his suffering. Police have investigated the case, but the Crown Prosecution Service has ruled that the evidence of those with Down's Syndrome does not carry sufficient weight to support a court case.

The council's management review reported that staff had repeatedly failed to spot signs of the alleged abuse among residents. It said that Mr Carr, who was said to be suffering from depression at the time, had been 'grooming' victims for abuse under the noses of other staff whom he bullied. Guidelines produced by the council, which told staff how to spot abuse, were apparently unread or ignored.

Mr Carr said: 'I am innocent and have never abused anybody. This has blighted my life. It doesn't make any sense and is very distressing. I can't explain why these people have made their allegations. Maybe they're remembering something which happened to them earlier'.

Ray Jones, Wiltshire CC director of adult and community services, said the recommendations suggested by the internal management review to improve the detection of abuse had been implemented, but he could not comment further.

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