In Brief

Local authorities accused of ‘pimping out’ autistic woman

Court agreed to let random men have sex with her at Manchester care home so she could ‘learn from mistakes’

A young woman with autism was allowed to have sex with random men after her carers argued that it would help her “learn from her mistakes”, according to newly released court documents.

The 23-year-old, who has severe learning disabilities and an IQ of 52, “was repeatedly exploited during a court-approved, two-month trial period this summer in which random men were permitted to visit her Manchester care home between 10am and 4pm each day”, says The Times.

The scheme came to an end after a psychiatrist told a Manchester judge that continuing would expose the woman to situations that could lead to “sexual abuse, violence, injury or death”.

Details of the case were disclosed after the court ordered that documents revealing the danger to which she was exposed be released to The Times.

Court papers submitted by Manchester City Council described the woman - who cannot be named for legal reasons - as having a troubled childhood.

As a teenager, she was assessed as being among “the small percentage of young women with autism whose obsessional interest relates to men”, particularly “men from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds”.

Since she turned 18, the woman’s care has been guided by the Court of Protection, which enlisted an organisation called Engage Support to give her 24-hour support.

In 2015, a judge ruled that the woman was able to consent to sex but lacked the capacity to “make decisions on her contact with men”.

Following her repeated attempts to have sex with strangers, Engage Support threatened to terminate their contract with Manchester council unless they were allowed to restrict her freedom.

But, according to The Times, the local authority claimed “unsupervised visits from men” were in her best interests. In June, a judge gave the council the go-ahead to leave her at home alone during 10am until 4pm, and said that if the woman wanted to have sex in public then carers were not expected to physically intervene.

In August, Engage Support stopped the visits out of concerns for the woman and the welfare of its staff.

The woman’s family have since heavily criticised the authorities and accused them of “pimping out a vulnerable woman for sex”.

The case has now gone to the High Court and a new agency is providing care for the woman.

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