Non-Recent Child Sexual Abuse
The offences against Joshua were of a sexual nature and were committed in the 1980s, when Joshua was aged between 10 and 15 years old. Tom, the offender, knew Joshua and had taken on a father figure role within Joshua's family. Tom was never charged or convicted of the offences against Joshua.
Years later, Joshua’s brother saw in the newspapers that Tom had received a custodial sentence for offences he committed in the 1990s.
Joshua made contact with Hampshire Police in Southampton who had asked whether he would like to press charges. Joshua had read about Restorative Justice, and said that he would rather try that.
Because Tom had not been convicted of the offences against Joshua, there were concerns that he would not agree to engage in the process and would not accept responsibility for what Joshua was saying had happened.
The RJ team had lots of discussions with Joshua, the Police and Probation, and an agreement was made that Tom would not face further charges against Joshua if he were to engage in RJ. If any further offences were disclosed that were committed against other people, then appropriate action would need to be taken.
The RJ team met with Joshua to discuss the process in more detail and he confirmed that it was something he wanted to go ahead with. His reasons for wanting to meet with Tom were to have a voice, to take control back and to assert himself and feel empowered.
He wanted Tom to know how he felt at the time and the impact that the abuse has had on him. He wanted Tom to know that he was a child at the time of the offences, and that what he did was abusive. Joshua felt that he hadn’t been able to protect his younger self and wanted the opportunity to challenge Tom in relation to what happened.
Tom was in prison at the beginning of the process and, even though he was contacted out of the blue, following the discussions around further charges he also agreed to engage in the process because he thought ‘it could help both of us’.
The team worked separately with Joshua and Tom for 14 months to prepare for the meeting they had both decided they wanted. Joshua had a substantial support network around him which was key.
Seven months after the preparation meetings began, Tom acknowledged that the offences had taken place. This was ‘surprising and overwhelming’ for Joshua and he felt that it was confirmation after all these years that it had happened. He said he ‘felt it was such a relief’.
In the meeting, Joshua shared a lot of information about how the offences made him feel at the time and the impact that the offences have had since. In response, Tom admitted everything and said that Joshua was brave for initiating the RJ process.
Tom apologised for what happened; he said that he could see that Joshua had been badly affected by what happened and said that he regretted what he had done; he acknowledged that it had been abuse.
Afterwards, both Joshua and Tom said that they felt better for engaging in the RJ process. Joshua was surprised at Tom’s admission and apology, but felt that it was genuine and could see that he was remorseful which did take Joshua by surprise.
After the meeting, Joshua told the team that: “I feel that I have reclaimed power back - I no longer feel like a victim since the meeting because it no longer has a hold on me.”
Tom told the team: “The time it took was about right, no stone was left unturned. It was a very good situation. It couldn’t have gone better.”
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