An ex-council boss, Roger Dodds, who forced teenagers to engage in sex acts to get grant payments has been jailed for 16 years. Roger Dodds, 81, also abused colleagues while working for Sheffield City Council’s education department between 1975 and 1993.
The council has been accused of failing to act and moved Dodds to a position working with schools after complaints. It said it was now “deeply sorry”.
In December Roger Dodds admitted indecently assaulting four men and a young boy. In a statement read out in court, one of Dodds’ victims said the abuse made him feel such “shame and disgust” he was unable to tell anyone for 20 years.
“His left hand started to feel its way into my right jeans pocket. When that started to happen, I just became frozen and unable to move.”
In the 1970s Dodds, of Cotswold Road, Sheffield, was responsible for providing grants to college and university students. The court heard he had used his position to abuse teenagers, forcing students to engage in sexual acts in order to get grant payments.
He also indecently assaulted colleagues. The court heard Dodds had shown no remorse.Roger Dodds had known the athlete Sebastian Coe, the court was told, and had lured a child victim by telling him he could meet him, although the meeting never happened.
His offending went unchallenged despite his victims alerting his employers and two separate internal investigations held into allegations made against him. In the 1980s he was investigated by Sheffield City Council following complaints from colleagues but was moved to a different council post, working with schools.
Further allegations in 1993 led to a second council investigation after which Roger Dodds was allowed to take an early retirement package with an enhanced pension. One employee said hearing about the complaints gave him the courage to tell managers about the abuse he had been subjected to.
The five victims were at Sheffield Crown Court to hear him sentenced. In an impact statement read out in court, one victim said he was just 17 when he was abused by Dodds which had left him feeling such “shame and disgust” he was unable to tell anyone for 20 years.
He said: “I went in complete trust to the council buildings to pick up expenses that I needed. “What happened to me in those council offices shaped my view about myself and other people.”
One victim told the BBC he held the council responsible for the abuse he suffered.
“I was the victim of a really horrible man,” he said. “The council are so responsible. I even think at times the council are more responsible than he was. They allowed it to happen. Everyone knew. Everyone in the council knew but they chose to do nothing about it.”
Another victim, Richard Rowe, who waived his legal right to anonymity, said he was subjected to “terrifying” assaults over an 18-month period. However, he said when he told council colleagues what was happening, he was told to stay quiet.
Another man said he believed more victims might still come forward. “We are just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Dodds was initially arrested and interviewed in May 2008 following complaints. However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided to take no further action against him.
Those earlier complaints were reviewed by the CPS following a new allegation in 2014 and a decision was made to charge him with all the complaints in 2016.
Sheffield City Council said it welcomed the fact Dodds had been brought to justice. Jayne Ludlam, executive director for Children, Young People and Families, said the authority’s thoughts were with the victims.
She added: “We are deeply sorry that Dodds committed these offences while working at Sheffield City Council decades ago. “We are glad to see that, finally, such cases of historic abuse are coming before the courts, justice is being done, and victims are having their voices heard. “Despite the fact that this happened more than a quarter of a century ago, we have accepted responsibility and would never defend the indefensible.”
South Yorkshire Police said Dodds’ sentencing marked the culmination of a lengthy police investigation into his behaviour over several decades.