Edinburgh crime news: Survivor of serial rapist Stephen Charters speak out about relief as he receives Order for Lifelong Restriction

A survivor of serial rapist Stephen Charters has spoken out about her relief as he was handed a ‘life’ sentence by a judge.

By Rachel Mackie
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 3:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th June 2022, 3:47 pm

Warning: Some readers may find the content of this article distressing

The woman, who has asked to identified only as a relative of Charters, has spoken out about her relief that he may now never be released from prison.

She has told of how she was raped by Charters from when she was a young girl when he came round to visit her family home in Midlothian, and one attack at the Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh.

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"It happened between when I was about four years old, up until the last time he tried it, just before I turned 16.

"I was in primary four when it all came out the first time...”

She said that her family didn’t believe that it had happened, and despite the police and the social services getting involved, it would be years before action was taken.

She explained how as she was a child, she “had no where else to go, and no one else to talk to. No one took me in.”

Edinburgh crime news: Survivor of serial rapist Stephen Charters speak out about relief as he receives Order for Lifelong Restriction

But she said that he tried to assault her again, just before she was 16 years old, and that’s when she ran away.

"I went screaming round to a neighbour, I couldn’t believe they [the family] were still letting him stay at the house. I’d had enough.

"I was always called attention seeking, lying, a troublemaker. I just left.”

Over the years, she struggled with the trauma. “I attempted suicide a few times, some times it was a cry for help, other times I felt I couldn’t go on.”

Edinburgh crime news: Survivor of serial rapist Stephen Charters speak out about relief as he receives Order for Lifelong Restriction

Years later, when she had a family of her own, she made another complaint. A day later, police came round to take a statement.

She thought at the time, that after a couple of weeks it had once again fizzled out.

"I wasn’t believed then, I wasn’t believed now, I didn’t have the fight in me anymore."

However, in 2014, police contacted her. They wanted to talk more, and had received other allegations against Charters.

He was arrested, charged and taken to court.

“Leading up to the trial, I got messages from other family members. Calling me a liar, sending me screenshots of Google maps of the street I lived in.

"I showed them all to the police.

"When I gave evidence, he was watching me and smirking. Drinking his water really quickly, then refilling it as I spoke, still smirking.

"He did that to the other ones [complainants] too. He was so arrogant.

"He was still denying it. When he was found guilty, you could tell he wasn’t expecting it.

"When he was being taken down, he looked straight at me and shouted ‘I’ll see you in hell you liar.’”

Charters was sentenced to five years for sex crimes against children. A former bus driver, he had also been heavily involved in the church through out his life, with his family member saying that several church members had attended court.

"I walked out of court,” she explained, “and some church people flagged us down, telling me to ‘forgive’ and that ‘times a healer’...my words to them were probably not what God wants to hear.”

While serving his time, he was arrested again for further assaults. He was brought to trial for the second time.

Charters was found guilty of nine crimes, including rape, sexual assault and indecent conduct towards four victims committed between November 1984 and October 2015.

His crimes included the attack of a teenager who approached him asking for help with looking for somewhere to stay after splitting up with her boyfriend. He assaulted and raped her in a hotel in Edinburgh.

The woman said of the ordeal committed at hotels in the Travelodge chain: "I was just frozen. I couldn't move."

He had been worship leader at the church in Fife where the teen attended. He used the church to prey on his victims, molesting one underage girl and raping another.

Charters, now 57, will only ever be released if parole authorities decide his imprisonment is no longer necessary in the name of public protection.

He was ordered to serve a minimum five years and made the subject of an Order for Lifelong Restriction after a motion was put forward by the Crown for a risk assessment.

Judge Lady Carmichael said Charters had “caused serious and enduring harm,” adding "you present a high risk of further sexual offending. You have a limited capacity for change."

After seeing him sentenced for a second time, his family member said she felt “brilliant. I great. Honestly.

"I never though five years was enough for what he did.

"I can now walk down the street, visit other family, without being worried that I’ll bump into him.

"Knowing that I won't have to see him again.

"He was sentenced through video link, when he got it, he just laughed and shook his head. Still denying it.

"He’s a dangerous person. He took every opportunity because he got away with it.

"The stuff I had to deal with... the stuff that was said to me.

"Monday [when Charters was sentenced] was proper closure for me. It’s not going to erase what happened though.

"He’s a vile, dangerous man. Very devious. Very calculated.”

Rape Crisis Scotland: 08088 01 03 02

Samaritans: 116 123

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