Alleged Northumberland care home sex abuse victim speaks out

Alleged historical sex abuse victim Terry Priestner has spoken out in a bid to finally get justice and has Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell helping fight his case

Terry Priestner claims he was abused as a child in Northumberland County Council Care Homes
Terry Priestner claims he was abused as a child in Northumberland County Council Care Homes

Alleged historical sex abuse victim Terry Priestner has spoken out about his battle for justice.

After getting MP Ronnie Campbell to help him fight his case, he hopes other victims will come forward.

Yesterday The Journal told how Mr Campbell, MP for Blyth Valley, urged victims of historical abuse in North East children’s homes to stand up and be counted.

He highlighted the case of his constituent Mr Priestner in parliament, after the 52-year-old alleged he was abused physically and sexually in care homes in Northumberland in the 1970s. Police have not arrested anyone over the claims.

Dad-of-three Mr Priestner, of Blyth, said: “This is not just for me but for all the others who have been physically or sexually abused while in care homes in the ‘70s. Jimmy Savile is big news and every time I watch something about it, it brings it all back.

“When I talk about what happened to me in Northumberland County Council care homes I go back to being a child. It has affected me throughout my life and I want Northumberland County Council to take responsibility and an inquiry launched,” claimed Mr Priestner.

In Westminster on Wednesday, Mr Campbell said authorities had been quick to act over claims of abuse by celebrities such as Jimmy Savile, but had not shown the same urgency when it came to his constituent.

He said he had no way of knowing if Mr Priestner’s allegations were true. But he said that Operation Rose, an inquiry into child abuse in the North East which was widely criticised for ruining the lives of innocent carers, teachers and social workers, may have missed a genuine case.

Operation Rose was conducted by Northumbria Police after a woman in her 20s disclosed she and a friend had been abused as children in care.

Officers wrote to 1,800 former residents and homes in Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland. The three-year inquiry led to six convictions, with the final case in 2002.

Mr Campbell told ministers that Mr Priestner had been repeatedly told abuse was “just what happened in the 1970s”. The MP said: “Terry Priestner wants publicity, he want publicity because he had other inmates with him in the homes who were abused in the homes as well... he doesn’t know where they are and he wants them to come forward.”

Coun Robert Arckless, the post holder for children’s services said “Northumberland County Council is aware of Mr Priestner’s allegations and has spoken to him on several occasions. We understand these alleged incidents took place between 1969 and 1976 and were investigated by Northumbria Police as part of Operation Rose between 1997 and 2002 and the local authority fully co-operated with the police during this investigation.

“We understand there were no prosecutions following these allegations. None of the Children’s Homes attended by Mr Priestner currently exist and none of the staff working in those homes are currently employed by Northumberland County Council.

“We will continue to offer support to Mr Priestner should he wish to speak to one of our safeguarding team.”

Northumbria Police’s Chief Constable Jo Farrell said: “The most serious of the sexual abuse allegations made by the man were investigated during Operation Rose and his case was reviewed again by specialist child abuse investigators in 2012. It has been concluded that there was no evidence upon which new charges could be brought.”

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