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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

An explorative study on perpetrators of child sexual exploitation convicted alongside others


Relationship between victims and perpetrators

Participants described a range of ‘relationships’ or connections with the victims in their cases. Three participants (across groups B and C) categorically denied ever seeing, meeting or knowing the victim. Others stated they knew of the victim and had seen them around or knew of them from the local area, but still maintained they had not had sexual contact with this person.

Those in group A, although admitting to seeking indecent images, stated they were not seeking a victim for a contact offence. They said that this offence was opportunistic and the option was presented to them by a co-defendant. Six participants, one within group A and the rest in group B, described that they had casual sex with the victim (a teenager). For some participants it was blurred as to whether they considered or defined this as a relationship due to its casual nature. One participant, however, said he was ‘deeply in love’ with his victim, and two participants had fathered children with the victims.

Victim vulnerability

Participants acknowledged the vulnerability of their victims (for example, they had come from care or had a history of abuse), but they talked about opportunistic contact rather than purposefully targeting vulnerable young people. On the whole, those participants from groups B and C suggested that the background of the victims encouraged the victims to seek attention or attempt to escape their difficult lives and, in turn, this made the perpetrators vulnerable. In this sense, participants (especially those in group B) suggested that they were preyed upon by the victims, and not the other way around.

Minimisation and justification

Participants in group B regularly asserted that victims had deliberately lied about their age or dressed in a way that made them appear more adult. Participants, predominantly those in group B, also suggested that some victims’ motivations for reporting sexual exploitation was to gain financial compensation or revenge after a relationship ended. These features did not appear in participant narratives where victims were under 13.

Alleged choice and consent of victims

Participants in group B implied that victims had volition in the sexual activity that had occurred, suggesting they had willingly taken part, denying harm, injury or coercion. Participants (except those exclusively in group A) denied there was a lack of consent, even if the victim was underage. Participants also strongly denied the concept of grooming, with many stating they had never heard of this term before they were convicted.

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