Serial child abuser who ‘took away childhoods’ sentenced to prison
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Victims of a serial child abuser have been praised for their courage after the criminal who ‘took away their childhoods’ was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday (September 23).
Gerald Highgate, 83, from Hailsham, East Sussex, was found guilty of 30 counts relating to non-recent child sexual abuse at Guildford Crown Court after preying on young boys throughout his adult life.
Highgate used his position of trust at sports and social clubs in Surrey from as far back as the 1960s to gain access to young boys and get them alone with him. Sometimes he would offer them lifts in his car and assault them in his vehicle. He often gave them gifts such as expensive trainers, cigarettes, or money which they later felt was a way of buying their silence.
One of his victims said Highgate had taken his childhood away from him and it had affected his life to such a degree he had later changed his name to disassociate himself from his previous identity.
In an impact statement given in court, another of Highgate’s victims spoke of the horror of living with what had happened. He said: “I have not been able to tell anyone or speak about what you did to me. It was the secret I could never tell. When the police came to see me, I knew what it was going to be about before they even said anything.
“At last, I have had the opportunity to speak out and tell what was done to me when I was a small boy. I can now move on with my life in the knowledge that you have been found out for what you are – a predatory paedophile.”
Three officers from Surrey Police’s Complex Abuse Unit, Detective Sergeant Ellen McLachlan and Detective Constables Katherine Peters and Tom Gilbert, were awarded Judges’ Commendations for the high standard of their investigation and said they hoped that this would encourage others to come forward.
DS McLachlan said: “Reading the impact statements from Highgate’s victims was incredibly moving. If you were abused as a child, talking about something you may have buried away for many years - something you have potentially never told anyone, might feel impossible. I hope this case shows anyone out there who has been a victim of this type of crime that you can speak out, that we are here to help you and it is never too late for us to do everything in our power to catch perpetrators of abuse.”
Highgate was found guilty of a total of 30 charges against eight victims. The charges were:
26 counts of Indecent Assault on a male person, contrary to section 15(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956.
Four counts of Indecency with a Child, contrary to section 1(1) of the Indecency with Children Act 1960.
All survivors of rape and sexual assault are encouraged to come forward – whether directly to us, to a support service such as RASASC, or to someone you trust, such as a healthcare professional.
Surrey’s Rape and Sexual Assault Support Centre provides a support service for survivors of recent and non-recent rape and sexual assault. More advice about the support they offer can be found on their website: https://www.rasasc.org/