Grooming gang victim:
“I was raped by more than 100 men but police arrested me not them”
Cassie Pike now 23, the author of a new book detailing her life, tells how she was raped by more than 100 men and how she was repeatedly arrested by police and even now she receives death threats in a report in the Sunday Mirror.
Cassie Pike was just 11 when the abuse began in her home town of Halifax.
She spent five years being repeatedly raped and says police turned a blind eye despite knowledge of what was happening. When her rapists plied her with drugs to make it easier for them to assault her police arrested her and issued a warning for possession.
And when she was seen at the age of 13 getting into an abuser’s car with another girl she was arrested on suspicion of facilitating a child sex offence.
‘I was so hurt and so confused – especially when they suggested it was my fault another girl had been abused. ‘I was only 15 and they were in complete control of my life. How could they suggest it was me that was the criminal?’
“I was arrested around five times in total, but nothing ever seemed to happen to the men who were abusing me.
Growing up, her childhood was extremely dysfunctional – her dad was a violent drug addict and her mum died when she was 13 from a rare brain disorder. Cassie eventually became pregnant by one of her abusers and decided to have an abortion. But even when she tried to take her own life the gang refused to leave her alone and continued the abuse.
Even when she went to school to sit her GCSEs in dirty clothes and a split lip from a violent attack nothing was done to help.
She had been raped and attacked with a hammer after being trafficked to Manchester.
“I turned up to school with a split lip and a chipped tooth, wearing my clothes from the night before.
“I’d been left alone in Manchester and I’d had to get a taxi driver to take me home.
“I turned up at school and told the teacher what happened and that I hadn’t slept, but she told me to try the exam anyway.
“I tried to start writing, but I have no idea what happened next. I passed out and woke up in hospital.”
She was eventually taken into foster care and moved hundreds of miles away from her abusers.
It was only when she read in a newspaper two years later about the Rochdale grooming case that she realised she was not to blame for the horror she had suffered.
“I read the story of one girl involved in the Rochdale case and it was like reading about my own life.
Cassie went to police in 2011 after reading about the high profile child sexual exploitation case in Rochdale.
After a hugely complex five-year probe, she helped courts to cage 18 of the men who had devastated her childhood.
Giving evidence in three trials, she saw the men locked up for a total of 168 years in one of the biggest child sexual exploitation cases the UK has seen.
The force said the case was;
“the largest and longest-running investigation into child sexual exploitation in Calderdale, It led to a major investigation with police conducting nearly 60 hours of interviews with two victims. Detectives also processed 1,848 statements, 2,963 exhibits and more than 20,000 items of disclosure.
In total 25 men were charged. During the trials, four defendants were cleared by a jury while three others were acquitted on the orders of the judge.
Mr Mann described it as a;
“complex and lengthy operation” and said the girls had shown “immense courage and bravery in reporting these matters to the police and in providing evidence”.
A serious case review then ruled the authorities had repeatedly failed to act on warnings that Cassie was being exploited by scores of predators.
She successfully sued Calderdale Council for failing to protect her from abuse and will this month release her harrowing memoir, entitled Prey;
But her ordeal is far from over,
She still gets death threats from the families of the men jailed for raping her and has been placed in police protection hundreds of miles from her Halifax home.
Cassie said: “I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, I worry over who knows where I live.
I’ve had phone calls from family members of the men who have gone to jail. They’ve spent hours on the phone to me, telling me they are going to find out where I live so they can kill me,
It’s terrifying. I’m happy some of the men are now in jail, but they won’t be there forever.
“Police found 100 numbers on my phone – but I was raped by loads more. They’re probably still preying on other children. I bet nothing will happen to them.”
Cassie was easy prey for the Pakistani man who first lured her into his depraved world after spotting her wandering the streets of Halifax.
She now fears their abuse could be linked.
She was trafficked to Bradford, where authorities have flagged thousands of abuse cases, and also to Rochdale, where a probe has identified 47 girls who had been raped and trafficked.
Nine men were convicted in 2012 in a high profile trial at Liverpool Crown Court, which centred on the Greater Manchester town.
Two years later, an independent inquiry revealed at least 1,400 girls had fallen prey to groups of abusers in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which also prompted a string of prosecutions.
Cassie, who has been diagnosed with PTSD following her ordeal, says she is sharing her story because she wants people to know how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation.
Now a mum of two, she is determined to give her five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son the childhood she never had.
I don’t let them out of my sight, I’m really strict, but they know how much they are loved, I couldn’t bear for them to suffer the same things I did.”
It’s clear that much more needs to be done, with funding in the right areas and support networks set up with more key workers in the social system and educational programs for not only the vulnerable children but in all schools as well to show all children and parents the signs to look out for.
It’s definitely not the time for councils and the authorities that we see in places like Telford to keep dragging their heels with public enquiries, its time to act and stop another young child going through and living this nightmare.
Prey by Cassie Pike is out now published by John Blake, in paperback, £8.99
Prey: My Fight to Survive the Halifax Grooming Gang https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1789460840