Following the recent conviction of his abuser, a 44 year-old man from Llanelli in South Wales is appealing for victims of sexual abuse to come forward and report their abuse to the authorities. Ex- policeman Danny Bryant from North Devon was sentenced to six and a half years at Taunton Crown Court in November, after pleading guilty to 10 counts of historic sex offences involving five boys under the age of 16. Steve, one of Bryant’s victims, who does not wish to reveal his surname, has spoken out about the abuse he suffered which began when he was 14 years old and living in Barnstaple in North Devon.
Bryant, who served as a police constable in the North Devon area for more than 25 years, abused his position as a respected member of the police force and a founder member of the Devon and Cornwall Police Surf Life-saving Club in committing acts of sexual abuse against boys placed under his supervision.
In 1985 Bryant was based at the juvenile bureau in Barnstaple where he enjoyed a high reputation among social workers, employers and teachers. It was in 1985 that he was awarded the British Empire Medal. Around this time Steve was assigned to Bryant in his role as a juvenile bureau officer following the divorce of his parents. Instead of fulfilling his role as a mentor he began a grooming process which culminated in sexual abuse. It was during an overnight activities trip to Dartmoor when Bryant committed the abuse threatening to kill 14 year old Steve if he ever spoke of the ordeal.
Steve who is now pursuing a civil claim against Devon and Cornwall police said: “I remember the abuse so well, it’s prayed on my mind for the last 30 years. He showed no guilt or shame following the abuse.” After the abuse Steve’s life began to spin out of control, turning to drugs and using solvents rather than telling anyone about his ordeal. Believing Danny Bryant to be “untouchable” Steve ended up homeless before entering a drug rehabilitation centre in South Wales where he stayed for 14 months to “rebuild his life.” Steve who now lives in South Wales with his wife and three young children, only reported the abuse to police after reading about the plight of other victims of Bryant’s abuse in May this year.
Asked why he hadn’t reported the abuse earlier Steve said: “I feel strong enough now with all the support of my friends and family. I think if I had tried to take him on back then it would have destroyed me because I was so angry, I’m a completely different person now. I didn’t want Bryant’s other victims to stand alone and I hope my story will encourage others to speak out about their abusers. I want to help break the silence that surrounds childhood sexual abuse and rid victims of the crippling shame that devastates lives. People must not be afraid to speak out against their abusers even if these people are respected in their community or hold a position of authority. My reason for pursuing a civil claim against Devon and Cornwall police is not about money but about making them accountable.”
Solicitor Deborah Corcoran of Simpson Millar, representing Steve in his civil claim against Devon and Cornwall police, said: “Steve suffered abuse in his childhood which has affected him throughout his life. He is now involved in legal proceedings in the hope of obtaining justice and encouraging others to come forward and speak out against abuse.”