SHARE

A rapist was told he could request prison visits from a child he fathered through abuse of a teenager, it has emerged.

Arshid Hussain was one of the men jailed in 2016 after being convicted of 23 child sex offences carried out through the Rotherham grooming gang.

Sammy Woodhouse was one of his victims and fell pregnant aged 15 after being raped.

Rotherham Council contacted Hussain in prison to tell him he could request visits from Ms Woodhouse’s son, and promised to keep him informed of future proceedings, The Times reported.

Hussain was said to have been listed as a respondent in a family court case which involved the boy and Ms Woodhouse was told he would be able to make legal representations.

Ms Woodhouse, now 33, had previously waived her anonymity to speak about the abuse she suffered at the hands of the exploitation gang and revealed the case concerned her and her teenage son.

Rotherham abuse survivor Sammy Woodhouse speaking to young people at West Walsall Academy

Image:
Sammy Woodhouse is now calling for a change in the law

In a video on Twitter, she said: “This story is about myself, about my son, about the man that raped me, and about the fact that Rotherham Council have offered him to apply for parental rights for my child.

“Even though proven in a court of law where he was sentenced for 35 years, that he was a danger to myself and to other children. I’ve also been able to prove that he is a direct harm to my son.”

She claimed her case was not unique, saying that it was happening across the country, with women being forced to meet their attackers to share access to their children.

A leading family court lawyer has defended social workers involved in Ms Woodhouse’s case.

Barrister Lucy Reed says Rotherham Council’s actions were “entirely standard” when it notified convicted rapist Arshid Hussain.

In a blog post she pointed out that the law states it is “mandatory for a local authority applying for care orders… to formally notify a father of the existence of proceedings”.

Ms Woodhouse and her MP, Louise Haigh, are calling for a change in the law, which has also won support from Baronness Helen Newlove.

Ms Haigh tweeted: “This situation is so utterly unacceptable. Too often we see the rights of victims being superseded by the rights of their rapists. This has to end.”

Baronness Newlove said: “I stand by @sammywoodhouse1 to get this perverse law changed. Rapists leave their parental rights at the door the moment they commit their crime.”

A Rotherham Council spokesman said that it could not disclose information relating to proceedings hearing in the Family Court, adding: “Like all councils we must comply with legal requirements, including practice directions, and that would include giving notice of proceedings to parents with or without formal parental responsibility.

“Often and understandably, cases before the Family Court are emotive and arouse strong feelings amongst those affected.

“We do understand that the legal requirements can cause upset to those involved and so we welcome a debate around this issue, which applies across England and Wales.”

A Ministry of Justice statement said: “This is obviously a very distressing incident and the relevant departments and local authority will work urgently to understand and address the failings in this case.

“Local authorities can apply to courts to request permission not to notify parents without parental responsibility about care proceedings, and courts should consider the potential harm to the child and mother when making this decision.”

An NSPCC spokesman said: “We need to understand if this is a one-off failure or a system-wide problem that needs to be addressed, so no other survivor and their child have to go through the same trauma.”