August 2018

Sex abuse victim says paedophile uncle would ‘lick his lips’ in front of her oblivious parents

A woman sexually abused as a child told how her paedophile uncle would lick his lips while looking at her – in front of her oblivious parents.

Debbie Pennington, who has bravely waived her legal right to anonymity, was sexually assaulted by Ronald Peters, from Kirkby, – who was last week jailed for 18 months.

The mum-of-two said, from the age of 11, Peters would make sexual remarks and advances and would get a “thrill” in doing it in front of people.

Debbie said: “I would be sat there with my parents and he would look over and lick his lips at me.

“He knew my parents couldn’t see him, but it gave him pleasure and a thrill to know how uncomfortable and panicked it made me.”

The 53-year-old said Peters would call her ‘sexy’ and try and touch her at any opportunity, whether it be an arm around her shoulder or a stroke of her leg.

However it was two years later, at the age of 13, when Peters sexually abused her for the first time – while she babysat his three children.

Debbie, who is originally from Wigan, said: “My auntie and uncle had gone out for some sort of occasion and I was babysitting my three cousins.

“They were late coming home and came back with some friends and put some music on and my auntie made some food.

“My uncle came and sat on the arm of the chair where I was sat and had his arm around me.

“To anyone else it just looked like uncle affection, but I knew it wasn’t and felt so uneasy.

“When no-one was looking or when my auntie left the room, even just for a minute or two, he would put his hand on my leg and move it up.”

Debbie said Peters then went on to repeatedly offer her a Bacardi and coke, which she eventually took and drank half of, despite her continuous rejections.

She added: “I know now that he was trying to get me tipsy.

“When my auntie went up to bed, I followed her and went into the spare room, which just had a single bed in.

“And it was about 20 minutes later, when I was just dropping off to sleep, that he came into the room, got in the bed, put his hand over my mouth and said ‘shhh’.”

For what Debbie said ‘seemed like a lifetime’ Peters performed two separate sex acts on her.

She said: “He didn’t ever kiss me, he didn’t touch the top half of me at all.

“I didn’t try and do anything, I just had my hands at the side of me – now I wish I had fought back.

“I just remember it really hurting and me just wanting to scream.

“Then he just got up and went into the bathroom.

“I felt numb. I couldn’t even cry.

“It almost felt like it had just happened to someone else.”

The next morning her uncle dropped her off at home and Debbie said she felt “too much guilt” to even look at her auntie.

Over the next few years Debbie said Peters would take opportunities at family events, such as Christmas, to grope her.

She said: “Obviously at Christmas when you greet your family, you kiss them on the way in.

“But he would stick his tongue in my mouth and grope me, just after my parents would have walked into the house.”

Debbie said the abuse caused her school work to suffer and due to the stress of the ‘secret’ she was keeping, she was moved down sets and didn’t take her exams at 16.

She said how she would try to make up excuses for not wanting to babysit, but this would cause questions from her family.

She added: “I stopped going to babysit on a Saturday, because I didn’t want to have to stay over but I still went on a Tuesday night.

“My auntie would go out to bingo and he would go to the pub.

“They would leave at the same time but he would come back not long after she left.

“I used to sit in a chair, because I thought if I sat on the settee he would be able to sit next to me and push me down.

“He didn’t sexually abuse me again, but it was the mental abuse and sexual remarks that would make me physically sick.

“He would ask me ‘who is your boyfriend?’ and ‘have you slept with anyone yet?’

“He would ask me if I was on the pill and say ‘a pretty girl like you needs to go on the pill’.”

Debbie said from then on she would invite friends to babysit with her, but eventually stopping going, despite questions from her family.

But Debbie said the abuse didn’t end, even when she married at the age of 22.

She said: “Before I married my husband and he was my boyfriend, we would go round to my uncle’s house to visit my cousins.

“My uncle would ask for a lift to the pub and my boyfriend, who was 18, would drive him and I would sit in the back.

“Even then he would reach around the chair for my ankle and try to touch the bottom of my leg.

“He knew my boyfriend was there but also knew I wouldn’t say anything.”

She added: “When me and my boyfriend married, we had our own house and we had my eldest son, but he would ring up all the time.

“He knew I was on maternity leave and would say ‘should I come round?’ and he would ask me to go to bed with him.

“It felt like I was leading this secret life, like having an affair with a paedophile because I couldn’t tell my husband.”

However, when her son was three-years-old, Debbie confided in her dad and told him that his brother-in-law was “pestering” and “being inappropriate” to her. 

She said: “I didn’t tell my dad anything about the sexual abuse.

“But my dad went round to his house and whatever he said worked, because nothing happened again.”

Debbie, then aged 27, had suffered mental and sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle for 16 years.

However, it took her almost four decades, in 2016, before she found the courage to report what had happened to the police.

Debbie, who has had years of therapy and counselling, gave evidence in court and on August 15, this year, Peters was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault of a child under the age of 14.

She said: “I didn’t sit through the trial but I was there the day he was sentenced.

“I didn’t look at him, I just closed my eyes and if I did open them I just looked at the judge.

“My whole body was shaking and I felt like I was going to faint.

“I didn’t even hear what the sentence was I felt so sick and had to ask my husband when we left court.”

Debbie added: “I feel like his sentence was nowhere near enough.

“Because even though the sexual abuse was horrendous it has been everything put together, the build up to that night and all the mental abuse I have suffered afterwards.

“It has massively affected my life, but even though I feel like I was let down and he will be out in nine months, I would encourage anyone who has suffered abuse to come forward.

“Even if at the end of it you don’t get the outcome you want, you will feel better about yourself.

“The only way of getting on with the rest of your life is to go to the police and report it.

“Get it off your chest and go and try and get justice.

“I kept this a secret for so long and it ate me up for years and years.

“But I have nothing to hide now because I did nothing wrong, there is nothing I am ashamed of.

“Speaking out has given me the power back and I have been the victim for too long.

“And I feel like if I can do this and speak out – I can do anything.”