Sex assault victim’s fury as ‘attacker’ remains at large

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A TEENAGE victim of a sex assault has slammed the justice system after waiting more than a year to see the schoolboy accused of her attack come to court.

The girl – who cannot be named for legal reasons – today said she felt let down by prosecutors because the 15-year-old boy facing the charges is still free to walk the streets.

She told the News she still did not feel safe and feared others would never report sex crimes if they had to go through the same lengthy ordeal. Today, Lothians MSP David McLetchie said the fiscal’s office had “failed in its duty”.

The boy has been charged with three separate sex attacks in the Wester Hailes area – the rape of one girl and the sexual assault of two others.

The victim said she was shocked at the treatment she had received: “It isn’t right. We’d feel a lot happier and safer if the case was finished. It’s really disappointing that it’s taken so long.

“I’m very disappointed with the way the families and ourselves have been treated. We’ve hardly heard anything from them [the Crown Office] during this time and it’s worrying for all of us. I don’t know how anyone in our situation can feel confident reporting this knowing that it can take so long to get to the bottom of it.”

The incidents were reported to police last year and were alleged to have taken place in the Wester Hailes area. The three victims are of a similar age to the boy – who also cannot be named for legal reasons. He was known to them all.

It is understood the boy and his family left the area soon after the Evening News revealed details of the charges in April this year.

At the time, residents described the scenario as “astonishing”, complaining that he could “walk past the girls’ house” and “there’s nothing police can do”.

A rape and a sexual assault took place last year, and were reported to police, with a third incident taking place in March.

Politicians and support groups today criticised the delay in bringing the case – which will be treated as an adult one despite the ages of those involved – to court.

Tory justice spokesman and Lothians MSP David McLetchie said: “It’s clearly unsatisfactory that no decision has been reached and that the fiscal’s office has failed in its duty to keep these girls and their families informed about the progress. It’s little wonder these kind of assaults are often not reported if people have little confidence that an accused person will be brought to justice.”

A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis Scotland said: “Rape is a crime which can take a lot of courage to report, and delays in cases coming to court can cause significant distress. Survivors tell us that having the prospect of giving such sensitive and difficult evidence in court hanging over them for lengthy periods of time can be very difficult.

“It is crucial that complainers are kept informed of what is happening with their case, and that any unnecessary delays are avoided.”

A Crown Office spokesman confirmed the boy’s case is still being considered. He said: “We can confirm that the procurator fiscal at Edinburgh has received a report concerning a 15-year-old male in connection with alleged incidents alleged to have occurred on or between June 1, 2010 and April 17, 2011.

“The report remains under the consideration of the procurator fiscal.”