Home 'failed to prevent sexual exploitation'

Anonymous woman
Image caption The woman claims she was regularly raped by several men after being picked up from a home

A woman who was cared for at a children's home claims staff failed to protect her from sexual exploitation.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, claims she was regularly raped by several men, after being picked up from a home in Gloucestershire.

The BBC understands staff were aware she was being picked up.

Marlowe Child and Family Services, which runs the home, has refuted the allegations.

The woman said she approached while standing outside the home when she was "14 or 15" years old.

"This van pulled over - [a man inside] told me I was pretty, asked me if I lived there," she said.

"Thought I was special"

"It started like that. I would be getting picked up. I was groomed.

"I thought he was my boyfriend. I thought he loved me. I thought I was special.

"The staff would know that I was going out and having sex with him because I would tell them."

The woman said she was raped in a van and on other occasions raped by a "multiple" number of men.

She added that at the time she thought it was "normal for groups of males to have sex with one girl", and "only realised last year" it was not.

The woman said the experience led her to become a drug addict and resulted in her losing a child.

'Currently closed'

Marlowe Child and Family Services runs five children's homes in Gloucestershire, each housing four or five young people.

The BBC understands four of the homes, including the one where the woman lived, are currently closed following critical Ofsted inspection reports.

In a statement the company said it did not accept the allegations.

"At no time have any investigations found any of our staff were indifferent to the systematic grooming and/or abuse of young people.

"We are certain that all safeguarding events… have been reported to the relevant external bodies."

The BBC has seen a social worker's case notes, which suggest staff were aware the woman regularly left the home and met the men.

The BBC understands the woman was later moved to a different home outside Gloucestershire.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said there were currently no criminal investigations "in relation to any incidents at Marlowe care homes or involving the Marlowe care homes".

"Should we receive any complaints of criminal activity then of course we would investigate those."

The allegations will be investigated on Inside Out West on BBC One at 19:30 BST on Monday 23 October.

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