Members of gang who sexually abused girls in notorious British town get long jail terms

LONDON (AFP) - Members of a gang who groomed and abused teenage girls in a northern English town notorious for widespread sexual exploitation were handed long jail terms by a court on Friday (Feb 26).

At least 1,400 children were abused in the former industrial town of Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, according to an official report in 2014.

Over a third were known to local authorities who were supposed to protect them.

In the first successful prosecution since the scandal was revealed, three brothers were convicted this week of multiple rapes and indecent assaults between 1987 and 2003 against 15 victims as young as 11.

Ringleader Arshid Hussain has now been jailed for 35 years while his brothers Basharat and Bannaras were sentenced to 25 and 19 years respectively.

Their uncle Qurban Ali got 10 years in prison for conspiracy to rape while female accomplice Karen MacGregor was jailed for 13 years for charges including the same.

Jailing the gang at Sheffield Crown Court, Judge Sarah Wright told them: "The harm you have caused is of unimaginable proportions."

During the trial, prosecution lawyers said the brothers, who were drug dealers, had "ruled Rotherham" through violence and fear.

They used their position to rape and assault girls, as well as forcing them into prostitution, the court heard.

Prosecutor Michelle Colborne added that their victims had been left feeling "dirty, ashamed and guilty" by the abuse.

"Between them, (they have had) a plethora of emotional conditions - eating disorders, self-harm, agoraphobia, self-loathing and terminations for many of them from the age of 14," she said.

Twenty-six officers from the local South Yorkshire Police are under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over their handling of child sexual exploitation cases in Rotherham.

They face allegations ranging from a failure to investigate claims to corruption.