Police Lost Evidence of Girl’s Abuse by Babysitter

Michaela Allen, now 36, has come forward to speak out against what she perceives as police failures that spanned more than three decades and deprived her of justice after she claims she was sexually abused by a babysitter at the age of seven. Despite her detailed testimony given at the time of the alleged abuse, police lost the vital video evidence and never charged the accused man.

Initial Reports and Police Inaction

In 1995, when Allen confided in her grandmother about what her babysitter had done, her mother Stephanie immediately called the police. The seven-year-old provided a detailed account during a police interview, describing how the babysitter had asked her to give him “grown-up kisses” and pulled down her trousers. Her vivid description of male genitalia left the interviewing officer in no doubt that she was telling the truth.

“The police officer in that room stated that never before had she had a child give so much detailed evidence without being questioned. There was no doubt in my mind that this was going to court,” Stephanie recalled.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) instructed the police to ask Michaela’s parents whether she could face cross-examination in court, but according to Stephanie, that never happened.

“I continually rang the police station to find out what was going on,” said Stephanie. “I’d be told that somebody would get back to me, and nobody did.”

Years passed without any action. Michaela repeatedly asked her mother whether the police had taken steps to pursue the case, prompting Stephanie to chase the officers involved again and again.

The Missing Tape and Reopened Case

In 2017, Michaela tried to reopen her case, but South Wales Police, responsible for the original investigation and the storage of the evidence tape, could not find the video evidence. A boundary change in 1996 had seen Gwent Police assume responsibility for Caerphilly and Michaela’s case. However, an internal investigation by Gwent Police in 2018 found that the officer in charge of the original case could not remember it but claimed he would have followed the CPS’s instructions.

Police informed Michaela that the tape had likely been “lawfully discarded in 1996.”

“It was absolutely devastating to read that,” said Michaela. “Without that evidence, it left a large gap, so it meant the perpetrator couldn’t have a fair trial. But where was my fair trial?”

Believing she would never see justice served, Michaela took to social media in 2022 to tell her story, saying she felt a “duty of care to warn the public.”

Michaela Allen says she was sexually abused by a babysitter as a seven-year-old – BBC

Discovery of the Lost Tape

Shortly after her social media posts, Michaela received unexpected news when a detective knocked on her door.

“I was shocked to have a CID officer knocking on my door, claiming that they had potentially found my evidence,” she said.

South Wales Police attributed the loss of the tape to a lack of cataloguing and said that the evidence only resurfaced in July 2021 when 8,605 tapes were digitised. They offered a heartfelt apology for the original failure to locate the tape in 2017.

Encouraged by the discovery, Michaela hoped to finally see her alleged abuser face trial. At the request of the police, she complied with their instructions, including deleting her Facebook posts about the case. Despite her compliance, she was dismayed when the CPS informed her in September 2023 that they could not pursue charges against the suspect because he would not receive a fair trial. The CPS cited Michaela’s social media posts and her possession of a copy of the video tape as the reasons for this decision.

“I have been completely robbed of justice for what has happened to me,” said Michaela. “When I’ve been chasing things up, I’ve been accused of being impatient. When I’m trying to highlight things, I’m being talked over. The frustration reduced me to tears at one point. I’ve been spoken to like a child when I’m trying to get answers.”

Seeking Accountability

Michaela is now seeking compensation but insists that it’s not about the money. “It’s accountability for the failures,” she said. “It’s the only option I have left to hold them accountable. This is a last resort for me.”

Michaela – pictured as an adult – says both South Wales Police and Gwent Police “failed her” over three decades – BBC

South Wales Police acknowledged the oversight and apologised to Michaela. A spokesperson said: “An investigation into the complaint has taken place, and a wholehearted apology for the original failure to locate the tape in 2017 has been made.”

Gwent Police also issued an apology for their failure to proceed with charges in 1996 and for the distress caused to Michaela. They have since revised their disclosure processes to prevent similar issues in the future.

“We have apologised to Ms Allen for the failure to proceed with charges in 1996 and for the upset, distress and disappointment caused as a result of this and the outcome of the recent investigation in 2022,” said a spokesperson.

Michaela’s story shines a spotlight on the systemic issues that can plague historic abuse cases and underscores the importance of diligent evidence management and sensitive handling of victims’ cases.

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