UK: Sexual abuse victim claims council would have treated case differently if father had not been gay

March 28, 2013
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A former army cadet in South Yorkshire who was sexually abused by his gay father and his partner claims the abuse was swept under the carpet by Wakefield Council.

Andy Cannon, 23, said as a youngster he was sexually and physically abused by the two men and his complaints were ignored by Wakefield Council social services.

Social services insisted on returning Mr Cannon to live with the couple, even though staff at Wakefield Council had received up to six allegations of physical and sexual abuse over a number of years.

Mr Cannon’s complaints to care workers were ignored and at one stage he was wrongly diagnosed as having mental health problems.

He waived his right to anonymity in order to pursue legal action against Wakefield Council.

An independent report found Wakefield Council had failed Mr Cannon and he received £25,000 in compensation last year.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Cannon said he believed social workers would have removed him from his abusers had they not been gay.

He said: “If my adoptive dad was in a heterosexual relationship then my complaints would have been listened to earlier.

“It seems the council didn’t want to be seen as victimising gay people – they’d rather look ‘politically correct’ and let them get away with it to avoid any repercussions.”

Mr Cannon added: “I’ve got no problems with anyone being gay as long as they don’t do what my dad did to me. That goes for heterosexual couples too.”

In a damning report now obtained by Mr Cannon’s legal team Wakefield social services officials were accused of “folly and gross misjudgement” and of putting the victim at “significant risk”.

They missed six opportunities to save Mr Cannon from his abusers.

During his ordeal Mr Cannon was repeatedly plied with ecstasy and cannabis before being abused by David Cannon and John Scarfe.

Cannon, 54, and 31-year-old Scarfe were each jailed for 30 months in 2006, for inciting sexual activity with a child.

Cannon was allowed to adopt Andy in December 1997, when the youngster was aged eight.

This came despite the fact he had earlier been convicted and put on probation for 12 months for assaulting the boy’s mother, possessing cannabis and handling a stolen computer.

Jim Crook, Wakefield Council’s interim corporate director for family services, said: “We are very sorry about what happened and have apologised. We have learned from his experiences and have improved our services. Staff at a very senior level in the service remain in regular contact with Mr Cannon.”

Mr Crook added the council’s processes for adoption and for dealing with allegations were robust and based on the principle of treating everyone the same, whatever their background.

More: abuse, England, sexual abuse, Social services, south yorkshire, Telegraph, the telegraph, Wakefield, Yorkshire

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