The front page of today's New York Times offers a sensitively written account of the ordeals suffered by child sex-abuse victims in Rotherham, England, where an investigation has revealed that, between 1997 and 2013, "at least 1,400 children, some as young as 11, were groomed for sexual exploitation while the authorities looked the other way."
Why did authorities ignore the abuse? The article takes its time arriving at the answer, and when it does, the answer it offers is incomplete.
We are first given an account from Lucy, a victim now 25, who tells of how she was targeted by a gang whose members raped her daily from when she was 12 until she was nearly 14:
At night, she would come home and hide her soiled clothes at the back of her closet. When she finally found the courage to tell her mother, just shy of her 14th birthday, two police officers came to collect the clothes as evidence, half a dozen bags of them.
But a few days later, they called to say the bags had been lost.
“All of them?” she remembers asking. A check was mailed, 140 pounds, or $232, for loss of property, and the family was discouraged from pressing charges. It was the girl’s word against that of the men. The case was closed.
The story then shifts to the recently released investigation of Rotherham child sex abuse, which revealed the extent to which local authorities failed to prosecute cases such as Lucy's: