When Lara was just 12-years-old, she was allegedly subjected to acts of the “utmost depravity” having been groomed with crack-cocaine and alcohol by a group of adult men in her hometown of Oxford in the UK.
Many years later, and Lara is now pleased that with the help of her mother Elizabeth she was able to secure the convictions of seven men who belonged to that depraved gang.
Since turning 12, Lara was groomed and used for sex, while being manipulated and controlled by the gang which didn’t allow her contact with her family for long stretches of time.
While the story of how Elizabeth adopted Lara is a touching one, nothing could prepare the two for what was to come later in life.
As Elizabeth told reporters about when she adopted Lara, “It was a bit like a first date – slightly awkward. But she was lovely, funny and impeccably behaved. And she asked if she could call me Mum. That meant a huge amount to me but afterwards, I realised, probably not so much to her, because I was the ninth or tenth potential mum to come into her life.”
One day, when Elizabeth took Lara out for some ice-cream, she told her mother about the sexual abuse she had been subjected to by a grandfather in a previous adoption family.
As Elizabeth recalled, “I felt numb and sick – it was clear the whole family had known what was going on. She would try to make herself invisible under a blanket and would lie there trying not to breathe until the blanket was pulled away and some drunken pervert was leering down at her.”
For Lara, growing up was hard, as she tended to gravitate toward kids who were unstable and susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse.
The gang that found the vulnerable Lara consisted of two African men and five Muslim Pakistani men who were all immigrants to England.
Once the men had Lara addicted to crack, as well as other things, they were able to manipulate her to have sex with men in return for her drug habit.
But at the time, social services were uninterested in the case, as Elizabeth explained, “That was the biggest shock of all – here was I, who had worked in and around social care and mental health all my life. I knew most of the senior people professionally if not personally [she was a nonexecutive director of the Oxfordshire Mental Health Trust at the time] and I couldn’t get a single thing out of them.”
For now, the dream for Elizabeth is that her daughter can find some stability from a man in he life, as she told reporters,”‘Yes, yes, yes – and nothing would make me happier.”
(The names in this article have been changed to protect the victim)