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Autistic woman contracts HIV after rape at a Brent-commissioned care home

PUBLISHED: 11:35 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:54 04 February 2019

Brent Civic Centre (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

Brent Civic Centre (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

Archant

An autistic woman with severe learning disabilities contracted HIV after being raped in her Brent-commissioned care home, a shocking report has revealed.

Cassie, not her real name, is thought to have been attacked by a male night worker.

A report by the Brent Safeguarding Adults Board revealed the shocking abuse at the independent care home between 2007 and 2015.

Cassie collapsed in 2016 and blood tests later revealed that she had contracted the incurable disease.

A safeguarding meeting confirmed that the HIV infection was sexually transmitted and that Cassie did not have the capacity to consent to having sexual relations, meaning she had been raped.

A police investigation followed but the case was closed in 2017.

Dr Margaret Flynn, who wrote the report, said: “Cassie has been failed by services. Exposing her to sexual abuse by a third party, if appropriate steps – through care planning and risk assessment – were not taken, is professionally negligent and possibly a breach of the duty of care.”

Cassie’s mother said in a statement to Dr Flynn: “When Brent closed its day centres I was told: ‘We’ll make a programme for her so she can go out, meet people, walk around – we’ll put a programme together that includes shopping and visiting you.’ Nothing materialised.”

Of the HIV diagnosis, she added: “As long as the law is what it is, this will always happen. There are people who work with people with autism who only do it for the money or for what they can get. There are early shifts and late shifts and at night they will have a man and/or a woman working depending on shifts at [the] independent provider. The [human resources] person at the independent provider said that this must have happened at night. This is all I know.

“This rape, which I can’t talk about or tell anyone about – this rape happened.”

Cassie did not benefit from yearly reviews and risk assessments, which, when completed, were done using “cut and paste”, the report added.

A Brent Council spokesperson said: “All of the partners on the Safeguarding Adults Board, including the Council, have expressed our deep and sincere regret to both Cassie and her family.

“We can confirm that Cassie is no longer living in a care home managed by the previous provider.

“We continue to monitor her progress regularly as well as maintaining contact with her family.

“We no longer place any residents in care homes run by this provider.”

She added: “The entire independent safeguarding board worked closely with the police and received regular updates regarding their investigations.

“A full investigation was conducted by the police who concluded that, unfortunately and despite best efforts, there was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal prosecution against anyone.

“The council takes its responsibilities to vulnerable adults very seriously and is continuously working to improve the support we provide to vulnerable adults in Brent, including setting up a team that specifically focuses on reviewing the quality of care and support for individuals in residential placements, and integrating the health and social care learning disability teams into a single team providing holistic support to adults with a learning disability.”

Incredibly, the independent provider’s own report stated: “The organisation is unable to comment on the assertion in the terms of reference that Cassie was infected as a result of a sexual assault as we have seen no evidence of this.” The identity of the organisation has been kept secret in the report.

A Met police spokesperson said: “Due to the 10-year period the offence was alleged to have occurred between, no clear suspects could be identified and there were no forensic opportunities available.

“There are no discernible criminal lines of enquiry that require further examination at this time.

“Should this change, any specific points of enquiry will be looked into fully.”

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