Child sex convictions spark UK debate about race and abuse

Northumbria Police Chief Constable Steve Ashman during a press conference in Newcastle Wednesday Aug. 9, 2017 after more than men were convicted of se

LONDON (AP) — Britain is wrestling with a volatile nexus of crime, race and religion, after 18 people were convicted of sexually abusing women and girls as young as 15.

One woman and 17 men were convicted of or admitted to charges including rape, supplying drugs and inciting prostitution in a series of trials that ended this week at Newcastle Crown Court in northeast England.

As in several other recent cases, the convicted men come largely from South Asian Muslim backgrounds, while their victims are mostly white.

Some claim the crimes were long ignored by authorities afraid they would be called racist or fearful the allegations might inflame ethnic tensions.

But Helen Bailey, an expert on sexual exploitation, said Thursday that focusing on the perpetrators' ethnic background risked missing other patterns of abuse.