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Reporting Non-Recent Sexual Abuse To The Police

Last week saw the sentencing of Thomas Rodgers, a former choirmaster and music teacher, based in Billericay, Essex.

Rodgers sexually abused a number of children during the 1990s, however details of his abuse only emerged in 2019, when his offences were reported to the police. Following a trial taking place at Snaresbrook Crown Court in early December 2023, Rodgers was convicted of a number of sexual offences against children, including indecent assault and indecency with a child. He has received a custodial sentence.

There are many reasons as to why individuals feel unable to disclose or speak to anyone about the abuse that they are suffering at the time, and are only able to speak out about their experiences later on in life – as appears to be the case here. These reasons for not disclosing abuse sooner might include –

  • Being unable to find the words or language to speak about or disclose the abuse, especially if they were a child at the time;
  • Feeling scared or ashamed by abuse – or feeling guilty or worried that they will get into trouble themselves;
  • Not having a safe adult disclose the abuse to;
  • Worrying they will not being believed – particularly if their abuser tells them no one will listen, they will not be believed or if they are threatened;
  • Conflicting feelings of loyalty or not wanting to get their abuser into trouble as a result of having been groomed, or made to believe that they have gone along with the abuse;
  • Being anxious about the wider repercussions of speaking out against their abuser – such as being alienated from their community, family or friends.

Often, survivors of childhood sexual abuse do not realise that their abuser has also exploited and abused other children, and they mistakenly believe they are the only one. Speaking out and disclosing abuse as a “lone-voice” is understandably harder than doing so in the knowledge that others have had similar experiences, believing this to be the case can therefore present another barrier to disclosure.

For these reasons, abusers can often go unpunished or not held accountable for their crimes for a long time.

It is also easy to think that the police will simply not investigate non-recent allegations of sexual abuse on the basis the abuse happened many years ago and obtaining any physical evidence would be virtually impossible. Whilst it might be the case that physical evidence would have inevitably been lost or destroyed due to the passage of time, this does not mean that the police should not investigate. It may be that other survivors have previously come forward and made similar allegations against the same abuser or that the abuser has already been convicted of similar offences – and these are all things that may well assist the police with their investigation and support a prosecution.

Reporting non-recent abuse to the police is ultimately a decision for the individual. They should not feel under pressure or forced to report the abuse. There are many reasons why people do decide to report abuse, such as wanting to obtain justice or a sense of closure – or to try and protect other children from experiencing the same.

If you, or someone you know, has experienced sexual abuse and would like to obtain free, confidential, initial advice on the process of reporting to the police, what to expect and your options in bringing a civil claim for damages then Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors can help you.

Olivia Coffey, a senior associate in the Civil liberties & Human Rights team, has many years of experience in acting for victims of recent and non-recent child sexual abuse. She can be contacted directly by emailing or by calling 0808 296 7694.

Further Reading Posts by Olivia Coffey