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Abuse victim denied compensation will fight 'same roof' law

A woman who was sexually abused by her stepfather almost every day when she was aged between 4 and 16 years old is challenging a law which prevents victims of crimes of violence, who have lived under the "same roof" as their attacker prior to 1st October 1979, from receiving compensation. Her case will be heard in the Court of Appeal next week.

The woman, known as JT for legal reasons, is now in her forties and has finally had the courage to come forward after all of these years. Her stepfather is now serving a 14-year custodial sentence after being convicted of eight offences of rape and sexual assault in 2012.

JT made an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The CICA is a government funded scheme designed to compensate victims of violent crime in England, Wales and Scotland. Unfortunately, the criteria that an applicant must meet to be eligible for compensation is quite strict. Under paragraph 19 of the Scheme it states;

“An award will not be made in respect of a criminal injury sustained before 1st October 1979 if, at the time of the incident giving rise to that injury, the applicant and the assailant were living together as members of the same family”

This rule prevents anyone that was abused by someone they were living with prior to 1st October 1979 claiming compensation for the abuse. As a result, JT was refused an award of compensation and her legal challenge will take place at the Court of Appeal this month. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse wants the rule to be abolished.

JT’s case highlights the inconsistency that this rule creates as a relative of JT was also subjected to abuse by her stepfather, however, as the relative was not living with the stepfather, as part of the same family at the time of the abuse, they were successful in receiving an award of compensation.

The rules were changed in October 1979 so that any child victims of domestic crimes are now able to claim compensation but, unfortunately, the changes were not retrospective.

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse and you would like to speak in confidence to a Personal Injury Specialist about how to make a claim for compensation, then please contact me on 01429 405122 or speak with any member of our Personal Injury Team on 01429 264101