August 2017

Child sexual offence victims still suffering impact

The victims of a man who as a 13-year-old boy sexually assaulted a girl in front of a young boy have told how his offending has left them traumatised as adults.

Mark Chawner carried out the crimes four decades ago when he was a teenager.

He touched and licked the girl on her private parts, while the boy was present, on various occasions, and told her not to tell her parents.

Chawner, now aged 53, of Minster Street, Burslem, admitted three counts of indecent assault, one count of attempted indecent assault and four counts of indecency with a child, before his trial was due to start.

He has now been handed a 36-month community order and told to complete 200 hours of unpaid work at Warwick Crown Court.

The female victim has told The Sentinel that even as an adult she still feels ‘dirty’ and not worth as much as everyone else because of the abuse she suffered.

She said: “Now he has admitted his guilt my head can go higher.

“If my child came into our bedroom at night if they were sick I would have to put the covers over my head because I’d go into panic mode. He used to come into my bedroom and I’d associate it with that.

“It affects everything. I open my eyes of a morning wondering how I’d feel. I’ve suffered with depression, I had to have sleeping tablets when I was a child and I’ve had a lot of time off work.

“I can’t even speak to a counsellor, I’m that eaten up inside. I still feel sad about it, I’m still upset about it now. Nothing will ever make it go away.”

The male victim said Chawner’s crimes had also had a long-term impact on his life.

He said: “What had happened to us made me feel dirty.

“I struggled in early relationships because of what he put us through. It’s had an adverse effect with the relationship I have with my children and it’s made me more protective of them.

“There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about it.

“I think the sentence was very lenient, but no punishment would ever make right what he did all of those years ago. He should have admitted his guilt straight away and saved us all of this.”

Timothy Harrington, prosecuting, told the court that the abuse happened on ’many occasions’ and ‘every time’ the defendant had a chance.

He said: “The defendant was 13 at the time of the offending.

“The victim recalled the first offence – she was dressed in her nightie and was practising gymnastics when the defendant proceeded to tickle her vagina then lick her vagina.

“A little later at bedtime he said that he would come to her room. He got into bed with her, lifted up her nightie and tickled her vagina again. He said she shouldn’t tell her parents.”

“The male victim was too young to understand. He witnessed the sexual offending and it remained on his mind for the rest of his life.

“He told a friend about it and reported it as a crime.”

Chawner was arrested in May 2016 and while he initially denied the offences he later pleaded guilty.

Chawner was also made the subject of a supervision requirement for 12 months and he will be on the sex offenders register for five years. He was banned from working with children.

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