Ex-council worker jailed for 16 years over sexual assault

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A council has apologised after a man was jailed for sexually assaulting a number of victims while working for the authority more than 20 years ago.

Roger Dodds, 81, was jailed for 16 years at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday after admitting indecently assaulting five people in the city - one boy aged under 14 and four men aged 16 and over.

Jayne Ludlam, Sheffield City Council's executive director for children, young people and families, said: "We welcome the fact that today Roger Dodds has finally been brought to justice, after so many years.

"Our thoughts go out to his victims, whose bravery in coming forward has resulted in Dodds' conviction and subsequent sentencing.

"We are deeply sorry that Dodds committed these offences while working at Sheffield City Council decades ago.

"We are glad to see that, finally, such cases of historic abuse are coming before the courts, justice is being done, and victims are having their voices heard.

"Despite the fact that this happened more than a quarter of a century ago, we have accepted responsibility and would never defend the indefensible."

The council said they launched an investigation in 2008 after a complaint of abuse was made to South Yorkshire Police.

Ms Ludlam said: "By 2008 major changes had already occurred in policies, practices and procedures both at the council and in wider society, but we needed to know if there was anything more that we could learn. This independent report made recommendations, all of which have been implemented fully.

"We tackle abuse head-on, provide care and support to victims, and do everything we can to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.

"We urge all victims of sexual abuse to come forward as soon as possible so they can get the support they need and offenders can be brought to justice."

South Yorkshire Police said Dodds, of Cotswold Road, Sheffield, admitted four counts of indecent assault on a man aged 16 or over and one count of indecent assault on a boy aged under 14 in earlier court hearings.

Dc Stephen Howson said: "Today marks the culmination of a lengthy police investigation into Dodds's sexual abuse of multiple victims, which spanned the 1970s to 1990s.

"Our inquiry began in 2014, after we received information from one victim who bravely reported sexual abuse to the NSPCC.

"We launched an investigation, which led to the discovery of other victims of Dodds' sexual offending.

"I hope the positive result at court today encourages other victims of sexual abuse to come forward and talk to someone. We will always investigate reports of this nature and will do whatever we can to bring perpetrators of this crime before the courts.

"If there are other victims out there who are yet to come forward, please know that we are here to listen and support you."

Victims of Dodds have described how his abusive behaviour was well known at Sheffield City Council for many years.

They told a BBC investigation how he used his position dealing with student grants to gain access to young people and was investigated in both the 1980s and 1990s with no apparent consequences.

They said he was moved to a different position, which actually gave him access to schools, and was eventually allowed to retire with an enhanced pension.

A police investigation in 2008 did not result in any charges.

One victim told the BBC: "I was the victim of a really horrible man.

"The council are so responsible. I even think at times the council are more responsible than he was. They allowed it to happen. Everyone knew. Everyone in the council knew but they chose to do nothing about it."

Another said there must be other victims who have not yet come forward.

He said: "We are just the tip of the iceberg."