'I trusted him and he came into my bed'

VICTIMS OF THE ABUSERS: How a boy of 10 became the target of a senior care work er
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The only memory Demetrious Panton has of being taken into care 18 years ago, when he was 10 years old, is the small black suitcase he had been given for his belongings. His father had explained to him he was unable to care for him after his step mother left.

Throughout his early years he had been threatened with "going to the home", and now his worst fear had come true. But the staff, when he arrived at the institution in north London, were friendly and welcoming.

Mr Panton, 28, said: "In a way, to begin with, it was better than living at home. I completely trusted them."

However, within eight months of arriving at the home Mr Panton claims he became the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of the most senior worker there. He is the first alleged victim of abuse in Islington who is pursuing compensation.

Mr Panton said: "What makes me really angry is that the people I was asking for help from have all gone on to better jobs. Who's watching over the social workers, who's inspecting the inspectors?"

At first the man who he claims abused him showed him great friendship according to Mr Panton, and bought him presents. Mr Panton says he was confused by his displays of affection.

Mr Panton said: "He became the most important person in my life and I completely trusted him. He bought me presents including a digital watch. Then I became very scared of him. He began coming into my bed three or four nights a week. You knew you had no choice. It was either sexual abuse or physical abuse."

When Mr Panton finally reported the man, shortly before his eleventh birthday, he says he was told by a female worker not to worry because he was leaving in six weeks time anyway. He left earlier following a police inquiry.

For 13 months Mr Panton said he enjoyed relative peace and social workers noted in his reports that he was more contented than he had been. However, a young male worker joined the home and started to abuse him. "It was very much a question of here we go again."

The alleged abuse continued from December 1980 to June 1981 when Mr Panton, then 13, told the head of the home, but he claims he was not believed. He then says he was exposed to a traumatic internal examination by the police, and told to walk home afterwards on his own. Mr Panton was sent to a further six homes. He struggled alone with the memories of what had happened.

Now he says he wants compensation for the authority who he says never apologised.