London: The British trial of five men and two women accused of sexually exploiting a group of young girls over a period of 13 years heard today that the girls were worked “like slaves” in between forced sex acts.
A witness told a court in Sheffield, northern England, that she and other girls were held under lock and key by Karen MacGregor, who is accused of befriending the girls before making them available for sex with older men.
The witness, who was in her teens when the alleged abuse took place and is now 43, told police that she went to stay with MacGregor after suffering problems at home.
She claimed that MacGregor plied her with alcohol until she fell asleep. She then awoke to find a man sexually assaulting her, the court heard.
“I thought she was my second mother but it turned out I was totally wrong,” she told officers.
The witness claims she was made to do housework, and that she and the other girls were unable to leave the house.
“We were on our hands and knees all the time scrubbing carpets, settee, washing curtains, washing windows, stairs, changing bedding all the time,” she told police.
“We were like slaves all the time.”
Prosecutors told the court that 12 girls were repeatedly raped, beaten and passed between abusers in the town of Rotherham, close to Sheffield, from the late 1980s.
The victims were allegedly as young as 12, with five becoming pregnant.
MacGregor, 58, faces three charges, including conspiracy to rape.
Shelley Davies, 40, denies one count of conspiracy to procure a woman under 21 to become a common prostitute, false imprisonment and conspiracy to rape.
Five men face dozens of charges, including rape and false imprisonment.
Many of the girls targeted came from troubled backgrounds or children’s homes, the court heard yesterday.