Police looking to see if criminal charges are necessary

A CRIMINAL investigation could be launched against former members of staff at a children’s home after two separate reports of abuse.

North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire County Council have begun a “thorough investigation” into practices at The Close children’s home in Brompton, near Northallerton, which closed in the 1990s.

A woman has come forward claiming that a female staff member at The Close had a sexual relationship with her while she was under local authority care in the late 1980s.

This comes after The Northern Echo revealed allegations last year from a different woman that a male member of staff had a relationship with her in the early 1980s.

The second victim claimed two other staff members knew about her relationship but kept it secret until managers found out, when the worker involved was asked to resign.

The victim said: “She would come and get me from my room when she was doing a night shift. I would roll up a duvet and put it in my bed so it looked like I was asleep, and she would take me down to her room.

“It started off when she had had a bit to drink at a party and she came to my room and gave me a necklace. I was all for it and I really believed I loved her. It made me feel safe and loved. But looking back it was an abuse of power and it really screwed my life up.”

After the staff member resigned, the victim said she started to self-harm, overdose and get into trouble.

The Northern Echo revealed last year that a woman had come forward claiming a male member of staff had an inappropriate relationship with her while she was resident at The Close in the 1980s.

In both cases the victims are understood to have been 16, but under local authority care.

A joint statement from North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire County Council said: “A multi-agency meeting was held on December 18, under the complex abuse procedures of the Safeguarding Children’s Board, with regards to two complaints about alleged historic abuse at The Close, a former children's home in Brompton. Both complaints are being taken very seriously.

“A multi-agency response will now ensure a thorough investigation is undertaken which will identify if there are criminal aspects arising from the cases and to identify all subsequent action.”

The victim told The Northern Echo some staff at The Close had sometimes held parties and allowed the youngsters to drink alcohol.

She claimed that one male member of staff had touched her inappropriately, and made sexual comments towards a girl who had been taken into care following sexual abuse at home.

She also alleged that one male member of staff bought her a record player for being a “good girl”, and boasted that he could “turn” her heterosexual.

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