No hiding place for offenders

TWO sisters who helped police jail the man who abused them as children have warned other sex offenders: you won’t get away with it forever.

The Peak sisters, who suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of their older brother, have bravely waived their right to anonymity to encourage more victims to come forward and to warn paedophiles that their crimes won’t stay hidden.

It took years before the sisters were able to tell police about what Francis Ross Allen had done to them, but their courage in coming forward, along with statements and evidence from several other witnesses, was enough to put him behind bars for seven years after he was found guilty of eight charges of indecent assault following a trial at Derby Crown Court last month.

The abuse began in 1989 when the sisters were just eight years old. Allen, now 43, was in his early 20s at the time. His vile actions meant his sisters suffered four years of torture as he systematically abused them at his now home on Main Street in Taddington.

After the court case, when Allen was also disqualified from working with children and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register indefinitely, the sisters decided to share their story to highlight the truth about sexual abuse and offer help and support to victims.

They have asked not to be named, but one of the women, who still lives in Taddington, said she had taken the decision to go to police last year after a confrontation with Allen in the village.

“We’d told people in confidence at various stages throughout our lives. It all finally came to a head one day and we decided we’d had enough.

“We kept trying to bury it but it wouldn’t be buried. I’d convinced myself I was protecting everybody (by not going to the police).

“I thought I was protecting myself by keeping it secret. I thought I was protecting my parents. I thought I was protecting my sister.

“In that moment I realised that the only person I was protecting was him. He didn’t deserve that protection and I kick myself for not realising it earlier.”

But when Allen entered not guilty pleas to the charges, the sisters knew they would have to relive their ordeal to give evidence in court during his trial.

Now Allen is behind bars for his sick crimes, the two sisters are keen to highlight that abuse like they suffered is much more common than many people realise.

And they are calling for better awareness so children will realise it is wrong and tell someone.

“Statistics show it affects one in four women and one in eight men,” said the sisters.

This is their plea to everyone involved – victims, teachers and families:

“If one in four women were having their houses broken into, there would be public uproar. But because it’s sexual abuse, we like to think it doesn’t happen.

“You are always taught from being a child that it is a stranger who will drag you off down an alleyway (and hurt you) but it is more likely to be a member of your family or somebody you trust.

“We need to realise that this does happen. It’s very much a taboo subject. People just don’t talk about it. Unless people start to talk about it then it will continue to happen because offenders will continue to get away with it.

“Years ago domestic violence was brushed under the carpet, but it is now much more out in the open and people talk about it.

“We’d really like to see the same for childhood sexual abuse, for people not to feel ashamed to talk about it and for people to recognise that it does happen in all walks of life.

“The way to protect children from this is to make them aware, and make them aware that it is wrong. Then, if it did happen they would feel more able to come forward about it.

“I know it’s not a nice thing for any child to know but if it makes a paedophile think twice then good. If somebody is sitting there thinking about abusing children or is abusing children, we want to make them realise that that frightened little child one day is going to become an adult, and that adult will have a voice, and like us, they may decide to use it. If it makes one person think twice then it is worth it.

“Tell someone. Speak out because your silence is only protecting the offender.

“It is never, ever, the victim’s fault. And it is never too late to come forward.

“We tried to bury it but it kept on rearing its ugly head.

“We’ve sat in the shadows long enough, we do not intend to sit there any longer.

“If one person finds the strength to come forward from reading this article then some good has come out of this harrowing ordeal.”

* FRANCIS Ross Allen, 43, of Main Street, Taddington, was jailed for seven years after being found guilty of eight charges of indecent assault.

He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register indefinitely and disqualified from working with children.

A police spokeswoman said: “We would like to praise the victims involved in this case for their bravery in coming forward and speaking to the police.

“This has led to the offender being brought to justice and receiving a lengthy sentence.

“We hope that this case gives other victims the strength to come forward and report similar incidents to the police.”