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Woman raped as teenager battles for justice

Woman raped as teenager battles for justice

Published by Emma Carton at 8:53am 22nd January 2020. (Updated at 8:55am 22nd January 2020)

A woman who was raped in Plymouth reveals the attack still haunts her, more than 40 years on.

Then 17-years-old, the victim was targeted by a group of men at the old Strathmore Hotel.

She believes the offenders who carried out the attack were sportsmen on tour from South Wales.

Now she is backing an appeal for justice, as police release e-fits of two men they think might be vital witnesses.

Historic Rape in Plymouth
Police investigating the historic rape of a woman in Plymouth think these men may be vital witnesses


The Victim's Story

"In late January 1978, aged 17, I was raped by a group of men who claimed to be part of a South Wales touring rugby team. 

"These rapes took place in a room at the top of the Strathmore Hotel, Plymouth.

"At the time, I was around 8 1/2 stone (55kgs) and incapable of preventing these men from physically overpowering me. 

"To the two men who took me and my friend to the Duke of Cornwall Hotel after I was raped: 

"You appeared at the time to want to stop the attack on me, and you also appeared to be shocked by the action of your team mates. I would like you to know that I was very young and very scared and that the impact of your team mates' rape on that Saturday afternoon has affected me every day for 42 years. 

"The shame of not being able to stop the attack caused me to leave home, aged 17. Even now at 59, I suffer from PTSD. 

"You may well have daughters or granddaughters of your own by now. I'm sure that your family and friends would like to think that they know how far you would go to protect them, should the need arise. There are not many people who truly get the opportunity in their lives to right such a dreadful wrong. The fact that you actually know the identities of all of my rapists gives you this unique opportunity. Please help me by coming forward and identifying your team mates who raped me. 

"To the wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances, drinking buddies, and families of the wider communities of South Wales and Plymouth: 

"The men who raped me came home after that event and carried on with their lives. I have lived with this trauma, day in day out, for 42 years.

Historic Rape in Plymouth
The woman who was raped in Plymouth when she was just 17-years-old says the attack still haunts her, more than 40 years on

"If you recall someone you know going away to Plymouth to play rugby or any other sport with his team mates around this time, or you recall any gossip associated with a tour of South West England, please contact the police to help me. 

"To assist with placing this period in time it might help to know that it was around the time of the Firemen’s Strike. The military had been mobilised to provide emergency cover. And, it was a very cold weekend. Some Plymouth Corporation pitches cancelled fixtures as result of the weather. 

"Perhaps you were, or knew someone who was, part of a club, or military team whose matches were cancelled that weekend in January. Perhaps you remember going to the pub with another team instead of playing a much-anticipated tour match.

"Worryingly, my rapists may now be in charge of coaching or training your loved ones as young players. They may be in positions of influence, and I ask you to consider whether you really want your children or grandchildren being influenced by men who gang raped a 17 year-old child.

"There are witnesses.  

"This ordeal for me might have been laughed off by team mates as tour high spirits. But this was nothing of the sort. For me, it was terrifying.

"Fortunately, though, there are many people who know exactly what these men did to me because they were there to witness it; however, allegiances change over time, and those witnesses may not feel able to protect these people any longer by the silence of the 'what happens on tour, stays on tour' mantra.

"You may even know how they planned it, and how they put that plan into operation. You may even be aware that this was possibly not the first or last time that they did something similar to other young girls or women. 

"Please help me by taking this opportunity to right this dreadful wrong".

Rape Victim

You can read more about the appeal and check how to report possible leads here.

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