Sussex rape victim speaks out after abuser is jailed for 24 years
A woman who was sexually abused in Sussex when she was a child has spoken out after her abuser was jailed for 24 years.
Jonathan Smith appeared before Hove Crown Court on Tuesday (April 19), having been convicted in February after a trial of 16 sex offences against the girl in Lewes, including two rapes, during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The 57-year-old was handed a 24-year prison sentence, Sussex Police said, and will be a registered sex offender for life.
Other offences Smith committed, who is also known as Grieves-Smith, comprised of two counts of buggery, ten counts of indecent assault, and two counts of gross indecency with a child, said police.
Detective Constable Lisa Wells of the East Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit, said: “Smith came to know his victim in the late 1980s and this horrific abuse continued systematically, unbeknown to anyone else, for more than five years until he moved away from the area.
“She has suffered with the trauma and distress of what happened to her, in secret and it was not for more than a further 20 years that she felt strong enough to get in touch and share her experiences with us.
“We admire her courage and resolution in supporting our investigation and the prosecution process.
“It took four years to ensure Smith’s return from Australia to face justice and she then gave evidence which helped ensure his conviction at court.”
Smith, a music conductor and director who had worked across the UK, Europe, the U.S, Australia and New Zealand, had been living at an address in Carlton, Victoria, since 1998, police said.
He returned in July 2019 as a result of the Sussex Police investigation, after a warrant for his extradition had been issued at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.
On return to the UK he had been living in Tewkesbury, Gloucs, on court bail conditions.
His victim, who built up the courage to confide in her family about the abuse, said knowing that Grieves-Smith has finally faced the court and that justice has been served ‘feels right’.
“I am thankful we have the systems in place within our society, and I felt I was not just speaking out for myself but for those unable to voice their own abuse,” she said.
“I hope Grieves-Smith will never have the chance to hurt or ruin the lives of other trusting children and their families through his manipulative and evil ways.”
She said the abuse she suffered at the hands of Grieves-Smith for so many years has caused long-term trauma in most aspects of her life.
She commented: “For so long cast a terrible shadow over my reality, causing a ripple effect out to those who could see me struggling, haunted by something unseen, causing upset and pain all around. Keeping silent kept me in a cage of self-destruction.
“Jonathan Grieves-Smith’s behaviour towards me has fundamentally affected my life, and has also severely affected my family and friendships.
“After many years into my adulthood, I was able to confide in my family, who every step of the way, have been loving and fully supportive. I was believed and heard, and I am so thankful to have my family know the truth.
“We reached the decision to speak to Sussex Police. Throughout a long investigation, the East Sussex Safeguarding Team, in particular DC Lisa Wells & DC Laura Powell, worked tenaciously on this case, going through evidence with fine tooth combs, working with the CPS, as well as with PC Lisa Hampson, updating, explaining and supporting me.
“To know they were working so hard on my behalf gave me strength to keep fighting. I felt I was believed and that it was not my fault, it was a crime. Incredible support was offered at Eastbourne Survivors, a charity who help adults sexually abused as children, along with friends I learned to trust.”
She said while the investigation was being carried out before the trial, she was able to start building her life again, which, she said, she could not have done without all the people and support she received and knowing that reporting it was the right thing.
This led her to want to protect other young children from their lives being taken too young, she said.
“The life I had to survive while I grew up in silence was not happy,” she commented.
“I did not feel like other children, I felt dirty and had to keep secrets. It hurts me the most that the whole family was also treated awfully with huge levels of manipulation.
“The quality of my life deteriorated more and more as the years passed, but since talking about what has happened and going through the court process I am finally starting to find some sorrow and compassion for my situation and that I had to go through all these things to get to where I am today. The investigation ending up in a trial has made me stronger.”
Do not suffer in silence
DC Lisa Wells urged victims of sexual abuse to come forward, adding: “We hope that increasingly people who have such dreadful experiences will not suffer in silence.
“If you are a victim of sexual abuse, or known of someone else who is, no matter how recent or long ago, you can contact us at any time in confidence as this victim did, and arrange to talk in confidence to experienced investigators.
“We have specialist officers who can also help you access to a range of independent advice and support.”