The two sisters have talked about child abuse through their school superintendent.
Sisters Sarah Abs and Rachel Todd – and a third sister, Rebecca, known as Becky – all suffered at the hands of their primary school superintendent who left sweets and letters on their school desks.
Becky – Sarah’s twin died at the age of 41 after struggling to cope with her ordeal.
Despite numerous reports to police and the school, the allegations were not fully investigated until 2015.
The CPS then ruled that the case against the caretaker could not be taken to court because he now had Alzheimer’s.
The sisters launched a civil action and obtained a financial settlement from Sifton Council in Mercy Side after their lawyers argued that the council was guilty of abuse.
Sarah, 44, says: “We have borne this burden all our lives and to know that he has escaped justice is a kick in the teeth. We are with punishment and life imprisonment.
“My twin sister committed suicide because she could not live with what she did to him.
“One day, I went shopping and heard a voice asking: ‘Excuse me, do you have any cigarettes?’ I turned and it was Becky, my own twin, begging in the street.
“At that moment, I hated the caretaker. He destroyed my sister.
“For many years I tortured myself, wondering if I could save him, in a hurry. Crime, in many ways, was worse than abuse.”
Rachel, 47, the eldest of three sisters from Mercy Side, was the first to be targeted by the 10-year-old caretaker.
The mother of three, Rachel, says: “Our home life was very organized, and our father worked very hard. My mother was with her four children and although the father tried his best to provide, I didn’t have much money. Used to get to school early because I wanted to get out of the house as much as possible.
“Looking back, I think he’s probably made me an easy target.
“There was a friend who took care of the school and he made a fuss over me. He left three packs of Ferrero Rocher for me at my desk, and I was very happy because I couldn’t find sweets at home. Sweets were a signature trait. ۔
“During the game he showed me his boiler room and put me on his knees. And then he put his hand in my underwear. Although I didn’t know what it was, I knew it was wrong. I hated it. I ran to the door, but he closed it.
“I stayed away from him after that but then I started wondering if I would do anything wrong. I was only ten years old and thought maybe I made a mistake. When he asked me to go to the boiler room. I agreed but it happened again and this time I have no doubt.
“I stayed out of his way, but he left a note on my desk, saying: ‘I miss you, broom. I stuffed it in my school bag and tried to forget.’
But Rachel’s mother received the note, and after finding out that it belonged to the caretaker, she complained to the school’s headmaster. Rachel believes the school’s governors, including the pastor, were present.
A year later, Sarah and her twin sister, Becky, were also raped at the age of eight.
Sarah’s mother, who has since emigrated to New Zealand, says: “The caretaker was like a BFG. She had white hair and I liked the smell of her jumper. She left me sweets and gave me a boiler. Showed the room and then he put his hand in my underwear
“He told me: ‘Don’t tell anyone.’ And I shouted: ‘If you do that again, I’ll tell everyone.’
“I didn’t go back to the boiler room, but I didn’t tell anyone. I was so scared. Rachel didn’t know I was being abused, and I didn’t know about it. We were all stuck. Silence
“I didn’t know he was abusing Becky either and I feel very guilty, even though I know it’s not my fault.”
Becky’s abuse continued over time, and she later told her sisters that she had been locked in a closet in the boiler room on several occasions.
Sarah says: “Supervisors often came to the classroom looking for a child to help him with a particular task. This was the case in the 1980’s. He always chose Becky, and sometimes someone questioned her. No. She was out of the classroom for a long time. Teachers often sent the children to the caregiver’s office to find a strange job, to fix such a leak or leak.
“It simply came to our notice then.
“I can’t imagine how it hurt. It must have been horrible.”
It was only at the age of 13 that the twins trusted each other and their parents.
Sarah says: “It was evil that he caused such a rift between us. Becky and I were so close, and we shared everything – but we didn’t tell each other about the abuse.
“Mother went to school and the police came but we were told that they could not prosecute without evidence outside the family. The letter that Rachel received was given to the school and was somehow lost.
“We were basically made to feel that we were liars and that it had a devastating effect on all of us.”
The girls struggled during their teens and although they made a second complaint at the age of 17, it was not acted upon.
In 2015, following the publicity surrounding Jimmy Sawyer, the sisters again complained to the police, and this time they were taken seriously. But before making the allegations, he was told that the caretaker now had Alzheimer’s and would not be able to stand trial.
Sarah says: “It was a mess. After all these years, for justice, and then snatching it away, it was very cruel.
“He claims he can no longer defend himself against Alzheimer’s. What right do we have to defend ourselves as little children, against a monster like this? It seems to have weight in its favor.”
He took civil action and was awarded an out-of-court settlement by Sifton Council when his lawyers argued that the council was guilty of abuse.
Sadly, Becky committed suicide before reaching a settlement.
Sarah says: “Becky never got over the abuse. She turned to alcohol and self-medication. We tried to help her, but she couldn’t talk about the abuse. She was shocked. Was a victim of
“One day, I was going shopping and I found him begging in the street.”
Becky died of a drug overdose in January 2019 and later committed suicide.
Rachel says: “We don’t understand how it is not in the public interest to prosecute a person who was and is probably a threat to children. There may be other victims.
“We don’t want any money. We just want our voices to be heard.”
Kim Harrison, head of abuse law at Slater and Gordon, said: “The three women showed great courage in coming forward and reporting their charges to the police.
“Since then, he has vowed to talk about what happened to him in the hope that his story would resonate with others there and help him deal with similar abuses.” Will
“It’s an honor to meet and work with all of them.”