Care centre rape claim

PUBLISHED: 16:40 03 May 2007 | UPDATED: 22:46 28 May 2010

LINDA INGRAM:
Suspended

LINDA INGRAM: Suspended

EXCLUSIVE by JOHN ELWORTHY and MAGGIE GIBSON AN adult student with a mental capacity of a child of six is alleged to have raped two women at a March day care centre while being inadequately supervised. Staff at FACET - Fenland Area Community Enterprise T

EXCLUSIVE by JOHN ELWORTHY and MAGGIE GIBSON

AN adult student with a mental capacity of a child of six is alleged to have raped two women at a March day care centre while being inadequately supervised.

Staff at FACET - Fenland Area Community Enterprise Trust - claimed this week that despite their concerns, which they raised with the centre's director, the man, in his early twenties, was still allowed to attend on a regular basis.

FACET's board of trustees is blaming the care home, where the man lived, and Huntingdon Regional College, who funded his placement, for not providing one-to-one support.

However a spokesman for Huntingdon Regional College said: "We do not provide the one to one support - we only provide the education, which is what we did. The one to one support is the responsibility of the care home."

The board of FACET reacted on Wednesday to the Cambs Times investigation by announcing the suspension, on full pay, of director Linda Ingram pending a wide-ranging review.

"FACET has a lot to answer for but I think the care home does as well," said Councillor Jan French, recently appointed chairman of the trustees.

"The issues raised are very serious indeed and I can assure you there will now be a detailed and proper review of all of our procedures."

We have obtained a statement by a former manager of the centre, after the first alleged rape, in which she complained about the lack of supervision of the offender. And we have discovered an incident report lodged from two years ago when the offender was seen engaging in "inappropriate behaviour".

Karen Spear, who until January was FACET's manager, wrote a statement after the first alleged rape last year in which she voiced her concerns about supervision provided by the care home.

"One of the support workers who regularly attends is 'Y'. On two, possibly three, occasions prior to the incident on June 9, I had reason to speak (to the home) to complain about 'Y' and, in particular, his failure to properly undertake his supervisory duties whilst accompanying students," wrote Ms Spear.

"There was one occasion when I reported to the care home where 'Y' had left the site and visited the supermarket, returning with items for him and his colleagues to consume, this at a time when they were supposed to be with the students."

Vanessa White, a staff member and recently-appointed trustee, confirmed that "staff members on several occasions complained about various incidents of inappropriate behaviour by some students". She said staff were surprised that after the first alleged rape, the offender was allowed to return to the day centre.

Cllr French said the board did not know, and should have known, more about the incidents and she was upset by the lack of care given to the first victim who was sent home on her own in a taxi. She accepted that the centre had not provided proper responses to the families of both victims.

We can reveal that police carried out two investigations of alleged rape at the centre, and by the same offender, within a six-month period but on each occasion it was decided not to prosecute.

They took the advice of medical experts that the man, although physically capable of committing the alleged offence, could not have acted with intent nor understood his actions.

"He was therefore not fit to be dealt with by way of criminal investigation or prosecution," said a police source.

But police were unable to explain this week how the alleged rapist was allowed to continue attending the centre and commit a second offence six months later despite being warned he should be supervised at all times.

A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said that after the first attack staff were told that the man "should have constant one-on-one supervision at the facility, at other day care centres, or when out in public, to ensure the protection of other vulnerable adults".

The spokesman confirmed that their investigation followed "an allegation of rape at a day care facility in March in June 2006. Both the victim of the alleged offence, a woman, and a 23-year-old man have learning difficulties.

"The 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of rape; however, investigators and medical specialists deemed him unfit for interview or to accept any criminal charge."

The first victim is said by her sister, who is also her full-time carer, to have been traumatised by the incident.

"He should never have been allowed back," said the sister. "I trusted them to look after her and they allowed this to happen. They have tried to brush it under the carpet and not accept responsibility for it."

Full details of what happened at FACET came to light only after the alleged victim's sister read in last week's Cambs Times about a funding threat.

"On the day of the rape, my sister came home in a taxi at about 3.30 and she seemed really, really upset. She told me a man had tried to pull her trousers down and hurt her. I told her to go and have a lie down and have a rest.

"When I telephoned the centre I was told an incident had taken place and it had been dealt with. I didn't know then how severe it had been."

When she woke she told her sister she was hurting and when she examined her there was blood. She telephoned their parents to say what she thought had happened and then contacted the police. "There was evidence of rape," said the sister.

Police were called and the victim was taken to Peterborough District Hospital, where evidence was found of an assault. The man was arrested.

However, she says what happened next - or more precisely what did not happen next -- is what caused her to tell her story. She claimed that at no time did FACET staff contact her, and she wants to know who allowed her sister to travel home "in a distressed state".

She says the effect on her sister has been dramatic and she cannot return to a day centre.

"That part of her life is over. She has been moody and violent because of the frustration she feels. I don't want money but I do want justice. He should never have been allowed back. I trusted them to look after my sister and they allowed this to happen. They have tried to brush it under the carpet and not accept responsibility for it.

"I have never had my questions answered and after the assault on my sister this man should have been watched all the time but I'm told his carer was on coffee break when he carried out the second assault.

"I cannot change what happened to my sister but to allow this to happen to someone else was just unbelievable."

Jenny Haines, a board member who co-ordinates courses at FACET, said after the first incident terms were agreed that the offender would return only on condition that a support worker was with him at all times.

"At no time should he have been left by himself, in the classroom, at breaks or at lunchtimes," she said.

Our investigation has revealed that police referred the first incident of alleged rape to MAPPA, the Multi-Agency Public Protection Agency, and to social and mental health services for them to consider the appropriate course of action in terms of securing the protection of those he would come into contact with in the future.

The multi-agency task force also undertook an interview via video link with the victim to minimise her distress, and police say she was offered access to specialist care and support services throughout the police investigation.

Police returned to FACET in January when the alleged offender was again found to be the same man, and he was again arrested on suspicion of rape.

No criminal investigation was undertaken because of "the alleged offender's significant learning difficulties".

Cllr French said: "I am very distressed by what has happened. In the short time I have been associated with FACET, I have been overwhelmed by the enormity of what they do, and the importance of the work carried on here.

"However the issues raised by these allegations are very serious indeed and I can assure you there will now be a detailed and proper review of all of our procedures.

"We now need to build bridges and get back the confidence people have lost in FACET."

Councillor Trevor Quince, another board member, said: "Everything has been hidden from the board. We should have been notified, without a doubt.

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