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Grooming gang victim’s horror that rapist has rights over son

Change the law:
Sammy Woodhouse
has waived her
right to anonymity
to demand rapists
are denied access
to their victims'
children PICTURES: REX/PA

A MOTHER who was raped by a leader of a Rotherham grooming gang has spoken of her horror after he was invited to apply for a role in her son’s upbringing.

Sammy Woodhouse was just 15 when she gave birth after being raped by Arshid Hussain — currently serving 35 years for the multiple rape of nine victims — some as young as 11.

The mother-of-two has waived her anonymity to demand a change in the law after warning that victims are losing children to their rapists.

Ordeal: Ms Woodhouse was just 15 when she gave birth to a son after she was raped

‘[The council] asked him to apply for custody so that he could then make all the parental decisions,’ she told BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire show.

‘He’s in prison for 35 years but he would decide where my son would live and make all the decisions and my son would go and visit him in prison.’

Ms Woodhouse, 33, was one of an estimated 1,400 girls abused by grooming gangs in the South Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013. She was plied with drugs and threatened at gunpoint.

Gang rapes: Hussain got 35 years’ jail

Rotherham council named Hussain, 43, as a ‘respondent’ in family court proceedings last year. He would be entitled to apply for visits from the boy. He refused to apply but Ms Woodhouse said her son had been ‘seduced’ by the idea of a relationship with his rapist father.

‘I’m asking for a change to the Children’s Act 1989 to ensure that no rapist can apply for access to children conceived through abuse and rape,’ she said. ‘It’s happening to people all over the country. I know women who are having to go to support centres to sit there with their rapist and share access to their children.’

The Ministry of Justice is investigating the case but said that local authorities have discretion not to notify both parents if the Family Court agrees. A council spokesman said it had to follow legal requirements and guidance.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said the ministry should tell councils rapists do not have to be consulted. ‘They could do that today but they don’t, they shove it out to the councils to interpret. It shouldn’t be about interpretation it should be black and white,’ she said.