Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield City Council 'failed to stop predatory sex offender'

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Media caption"I remember... looking at Roger Dodds with his big bunch of keys, locking the door, and that was horrifying", one victim said

Predatory sex offender Roger Dodds was left free to abuse his victims by Sheffield City Council despite bosses having known about his offending for years, BBC News has found.

Dodds, who was jailed earlier for 16 years after pleading guilty to four counts of indecent assault, was allowed to operate as an employee of the council "without sufficient challenge, accountability or consequences", a council-commissioned report found.

Council officials not only knew about his behaviour, but also failed to report his activities to police and gave him early retirement with an enhanced pension.

Kenny Dale, who was abused by Dodds in the early 1990s and has waived his right to anonymity, said: "I was the victim of a horrible man and the council are to blame for that."

Sheffield City Council said it "accepted responsibility" and was "deeply sorry" Dodds had been allowed to commit these offences while in its employment.

Image caption Dodds abused at least one man while heading up the council's Grants and Awards Department

Dodds, now 81, was employed in 1975 to head the council's Grants and Awards Department.

The unit was responsible for providing financial support to students attending college or university. However, Dodds used his position to sexually abuse young men, typically in their late teens.

One victim, who did not want to be named, said he was assaulted during their very first meeting.

He told the BBC: "Dodds was asking me things about my studies, and, very gradually, his left hand started to feel its way into my right jeans pocket. When that started to happen, I just became frozen and unable to move."

According to former colleagues, Dodds was part of a club that operated within the council swapping hardcore pornographic magazines in internal envelopes and screening adult films in a basement room.

He was first investigated by Sheffield City Council in the early 1980s after a series of allegations were made against him.

The complaints gave one employee the courage to tell managers about the abuse he had been subjected to.

Image caption Richard Rowe said he grew to fear turning up for work as a result of his abuse at the hands of Dodds

Richard Rowe, who has also waived his legal right to anonymity, said he was subjected to "terrifying" assaults over an 18-month period.

However, he said when he told bosses what was happening, he was told to stay quiet.

Worked in schools

"They asked for specifics and I gave them as much details as I could bring myself to voice. But they knew, they knew exactly," he said.

"At the end of the interview it was, 'there is nothing more to tell us, so go back to the office and you do not speak about this inside or outside the building'. I clearly remember that warning."

Following the investigation, Dodds was moved to a position working with schools.

An investigation carried out for Sheffield City Council, and seen by the BBC, said he was given "substantial unregulated and unsupervised access to schools".

The report continues that "there appears to have been no disciplinary consequences to his behaviour at the time".

Nor was his transfer a chastening experience for Dodds.

Image caption Kenny Dale said he blamed the council for failing to stop Dodds

Mr Dale began working at the council in the early 1990s and, despite warnings from colleagues, applied for a post working alongside Dodds.

"Everyone told me not to go for it," he said, "[but] I didn't think that kind of behaviour would be allowed".

He said Dodds began touching him inappropriately almost immediately and continued to do so despite his objections and the lack of challenge from managers.

Enhanced pension

Another investigation by the local authority was launched and in 1993 Roger Dodds left the council.

However, despite Mr Dale's insistence Dodds should not be given a payoff, he was given an early retirement package that included an enhanced pension.

Mr Dale said he blames the council for the abuse he suffered.

"The council are so responsible, more responsible than he was," he said.

Image copyright Dave Pickersgill/Geograph
Image caption Roger Dodds was the subject of two internal investigations while working for Sheffield City Council

Following the second internal investigation officials concluded a criminal investigation should have been launched.

In 2008, one of Dodds' victims went to South Yorkshire Police with his allegations.

However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided not to prosecute at the time - a CPS spokesman said its files did not contain details on why that decision was taken.

Dodds was eventually charged in 2016 after another complainant came forward in 2014.

'Enormous distress'

The police investigation prompted the council to commission consultants to investigate how it had handled Dodds.

The 2008 review concluded: "It was clearly wrong that Dodds should receive early retirement. He was not subject to any official sanction by the council for his alleged behaviour."

The 28-page dossier also revealed repeated failures by the council, describing the authority's action as clearly unacceptable not just by present-day standards but by the policies and legislation in place at the time.

It conceded the council did not know how many other victims there might be.

Its conclusion was damning, stating: "The actions of Roger Dodds have caused enormous distress to his victims, and the city council has been complicit in allowing Dodds to operate apparently without sufficient challenge, accountability or consequences."

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