A woman who says she was sexually abused and ‘groomed’ by a solicitor has been awarded £16,500 damages – despite her alleged attacker dying before the case was heard in court.
The BBC has today revealed former Whitchurch solicitor Martin Rogerson had been due to appear in court in 2015, accused of historical indecency, but died before his case was heard.
He was the son of former town GP Gerard Rogerson, who died in 2002 but has also been subject to numerous accusations of historic sexual abuse.
Police have investigated more than 25 allegations over the past year from adults who say they were abused by the GP when they were his patients as children.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) – a Government led scheme which compensates innocent victims of crime – has already paid out settlements to a number of former patients of the doctor, in cases led by abuse claims specialist Victoria Neale, of Hudgell Solicitors.
The CICA has also awarded damages to the woman who alleged being sexually assaulted as a child over a number of years by Rogerson’s son Martin, despite him dying before he could be tried in a court of law.
Woman found courage to come forward after seeing other cases in news
The woman, now 50 who cannot be named, said she decided to speak out having read about the increasing number of successful cases against the GP, and as her own CICA claim relating to his son was successful.
She alleged she was abused by Martin Rogerson more than 35 years ago, saying the abuse mostly happened in his home, but also at his parents (the doctors) house when they were on holiday, where it has already been alleged many other children were sexually abused over many years by his father Gerard.
The abuse, she says, started as ‘inappropriate touching’ and advanced to ‘full on gratuitous sex’ over a four to five year period.
The woman said she didn’t speak to anyone about the abuse until in her 40s, but found the courage to do so as there had been high-profile cases in the news.
“I had seen the coverage about people finally speaking out and challenging the behaviour of men who prey on vulnerable and young children and that made me feel that maybe I should too.
“I said to my husband ‘what happened to me was wrong wasn’t it?’, and when I said I thought I should make the allegations he supported me.”
She revealed how she first sought the help of counsellors, and at first was worried even they would not believe her.
“I even asked them if they were sure what he did was wrong and whether they believed me. You doubt yourself and it is difficult to come forward,”
“It was after speaking to counsellors that I went to the police and he was questioned and charged. Sadly, the first thing his solicitor assumed was that I wanted money. I didn’t need or want the money, I just wanted to make the flashbacks and vile memories from my childhood go away.”
Martin Rogerson was set to appear in court in September 2015, however, he died days before he was due to appear in court aged 72, after battling cancer for two years.
The woman says she was then advised to apply for compensation through the CICA, which awarded damages based on the acceptance ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that she had been the victim of sexual assault as a child, over a period of up to three years.
Speaking of making her allegations to the police, and the subsequent legal case, she says it is something she is glad she found the strength to do.
“The sad thing is that you always feel you won’t be believed, as the grooming goes so very deep,” she said.
“When a man in his thirties tells you as a 12-year-old to stay quiet and says you are having an ‘affair’ and you can’t tell people because you’ll both get in trouble, you believe them.
“It was only by seeing counsellors as a mid-forties mature woman that I was able to rationalize it and undo the grooming by bringing forward my memories which were so locked away.
“When you start to consider if it’s normal to give a child alcohol and cigarettes you realise as an adult it wasn’t right and start to unfold the enormity of what has happened to you.”
‘I hope my case helps others who are abused find the courage to come forward’
The woman says she has shared her experience in the hope others who have been a victim of abuse will read about her case and find the same courage too. She says she has had fantastic support from all she has turned to.
“I have come forward to speak about my case because I feel there may also be many others like me who hold something like this for many years and do not feel able to speak about it,” she said.
“I consider myself an intelligent woman with a good job, but I questioned myself as to whether I should ever speak to anyone about this.
“It is very daunting to begin with to be sat in front of two uniformed officers telling them about something which happened more than 30 years ago, but they were fantastic.
“So too, were the officers who took my video statement and the support people who help you prepare for court. The CPS said I was a great witness and had a very strong case. That helped me.
“It was difficult to seek civil redress also, but I am glad I did and I am certainly glad my legal case was a success.
“It vindicates my decision completely, and although I wouldn’t say it was revenge, it feels like some closure for me as this man would still brazenly contact me years after as if nothing had happened. I did nothing for years but in the end I had to speak out.”
Compensation ‘completely justified’ despite no criminal conviction in case
Victoria Neale, of Hudgell Solicitors, has successfully supported people in damages claims in relation to Dr Gerard Rogerson, and says the CICA scheme provides ‘completely justified compensation’ for those who suffered abuse, especially in cases when there has been no criminal conviction.
She said: “In my work supporting victims of abuse is crucial, I am more and more often the first and only person they have spoken to, this is an extremely difficult brave step. I know that many find standing up to the perpetrator an intimidating prospect, and it is this which understandably prevents people from coming forward and speaking out for many years.
“For many reasons those targeted often suffer in silence because of the sheer the amount of physical or emotional pain inflicted.
“We have seen this in many high profile cases in the media, and indeed with the complaints which were made with regards to Dr Gerard Rogerson, as they were not made until many years after his death and only came after one former patient spoke out.
“It is only right that there is a system in place to ensure people can secure damages, and we are in touch with numerous charities to offer counselling support if they haven’t already, when coming forward to report cases of historic abuse, even if those accused of carrying out the abuse have since died and not been prosecuted. It is completely justifiable and it is why the scheme was established by the Government,
“Cases are judged individually and on the evidence available to them, including police investigations and detailed psychological assessments which consider the impact on victims. In this case there has been a substantial award.”
The woman was full of praise for Mrs Neale for her support.
She said “Victoria has been amazing. Whenever we speak, it always feels like she has got all the time in the world to listen. That is what you need when you tell people something like this.”
Martin and Gerard Rogerson share the same gravestone in Whitchurch cemetery.
It says ‘of your soul pray for the charity of Gerard Rogerson, and that Martin Rogerson was ‘an advocate for truth and justice’.