A desperate abuse victim threw her trust into the hands of the police – only for one perverted officer to proposition her himself.
Scarlett Jones was one of the first brave women who told the Sunday Mirror of her hell at the hands of child sex predators in Telford, Shropshire.
Two years ago, she helped us reveal that up to 1,000 girls could have been targeted over four decades in a scandal which was also linked to five deaths.
Our investigation prompted the police probe Operation Vapour, and four men have so far been jailed for a total of 22 years for child sexual exploitation.
Now Scarlett’s heartbreaking story is laid bare in a devastating memoir, published by Mirror Books.
Scarlett – not her real name – reveals years of pain.
First there was relentless abuse from her father. Then, at 14, a sex predator targeted her.
He made her pregnant, paid someone to beat her up in a bid to force a miscarriage, and sold her to other men who raped her.
Scarlett says she tried to tell police 30 times about her ordeal but says her cries for help fell on deaf ears.
She says: “One officer was a total scumbag. He said, ‘You’re very pretty. Why don’t you come round and see me next week?
“I’ll give you my address. If the curtains are open, it’s fine, but if they’re shut, the wife’s there, so don’t bother’.
“I was 17 and he was far older. I was basically a child begging for help. Of course, I never did go to his house, but it reiterated that was all men wanted me for – if even the police saw me as a slag.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God. If I ring the police and that’s how they react, what’s the point?’ Other officers told me they couldn’t do anything because they couldn’t see any bruises on me. I had nowhere to turn.”
Scarlett, now in her 40s and a mother of five, had a heartbreaking childhood.
She was sexually abused by her dad from the age of eight and got little affection from her mum. Desperate to escape being raped at home, she began wandering the streets with a friend at night – and bumped into the Pakistani man who would wreak havoc on her life.
Scarlett says: “He told me I was pretty. No one had ever said that. He didn’t seem to care that I was just 14. He completely picked up on how vulnerable I was.
“But I think my dad caused the most damage. He primed me for everything that happened. Who knows what would have happened if I’d had a happy home life? When I met this man, I craved love. When he started raping me, I thought it was normal. I thought it was how all girls were treated because that’s what my dad did to me.”
In months, Scarlett was pregnant. She was told to leave school by her headteacher, who said she was setting a bad example. Her furious abuser questioned whether the baby was his and insisted she have an abortion.
He drove her to a Birmingham clinic, but distraught Scarlett could not go through with it and tearfully asked the nurse not to operate.
The abuser then paid a woman in her 20s to batter Scarlett in the hope it would prompt a miscarriage.
Scarlett adds: “I felt a punch to the back of my head, then someone had me on the ground and was beating me. I was kicked and punched on my face, on my back, but mostly on my stomach.
“I tried to protect my belly and was terrified this person had hurt my baby. I was in shock and, to this day, have no idea how I got home. It tells you everything you need to know about my home life that I just went to bed.
“My face was black and blue. My eye was caked with blood. I couldn’t say what happened because I didn’t trust anybody in my family.”
The woman was convicted of assault but told a court she battered Scarlett because she thought she was having an affair with her husband.
Things only got worse after Scarlett, then 15, gave birth to her son. Her abuser began to sell her to other Pakistani men, while continuing his terrifying campaign of violence.
She says: “I lost count of how many men he forced me to have sex with. It was only later I realised he was being paid but I never got a penny.”
The man also unleashed a merciless campaign of physical abuse. But Scarlett says that when she tried to tell the police, little was done.
And when she confided in her GP he suggested she was mentally ill.
Scarlett tried to prevent the abuser seeing his child. But her mum took his side and a judge granted access.
The child was with Scarlett’s mum during the week. Scarlett had the boy at weekends but had to take him to a contact centre – sitting opposite the rapist she was trying to escape.
She recalls: “My abuser said I was a druggie and a prostitute, but he was the one selling me to be raped.
“He said that he was terrified for his son’s welfare. I tried to protest, but I wasn’t allowed to speak. I wanted to scream, ‘They’ve taken my baby, you don’t understand what he’s doing to me’. The judge told me I’d go to prison if I wasn’t quiet.”
The man eventually lost interest in seeing the child – and, slowly, released his grip on Scarlett’s life. It would be many years before she saw any kind of justice.
In 2014, her dad was finally convicted of abusing her and her sister. She had to give evidence against him three times as his first two trials collapsed for legal reasons. He was jailed for 15 years
Scarlett decided she didn’t want to go through another criminal investigation into the grooming and abuse from her baby’s dad and his friends.
But she has given evidence to the public inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Telford – prompted by the Sunday Mirror’s exposé of abuse and trafficking.
Specialist child abuser lawyer Dino Nocivelli, of Bolt Burdon Kemp, said: “Child sexual exploitation is a national issue. We have seen this in towns around the country. Often, survivors are let down by institutions which are supposed to help.”
She also helped set up The Holly Project – a service for adult survivors of child sexual exploitation in Telford.
Scarlett says: “Life is too short to hold grudges. I just want everyone who has information about abuse to come forward to the inquiry so we stop this happening to other girls.”
Chief Supt Tom Harding, for West Mercia Police, said: “These are incredibly serious allegations that today would amount to a serious criminal offence. We’re committed to ensuring survivors receive justice, regardless of when the offence took place.”