Vulnerable Children

The world’s most vulnerable children go from one frying pan to another:

British police helped cover up a horrific sex abuse scandal at a Christian missionary orphanage in Albania, a Guardian investigation has found.

Senior officers agreed to keep details of abuse secret from their counterparts in Albania after the British director of the orphanage, David Brown, persuaded them that while children had been sexually abused in his care, he had played no part in it.

Brown, 57, an evangelical charity worker who founded the His Children orphanage seven years ago, was yesterday found guilty of “sexual relations” with minors.

Sentencing him to 20 years in a maximum-security jail in Albania, Judge Gerti Hoxha said the home had been used as “camouflage” for sexual abuse. He hoped the sentence would serve as a warning to other paedophiles.

Looking unstable on his feet, Brown was escorted from the courtroom.

Two other British helpers at the orphanage remain on trial for their alleged part in the abuse. Dino Christodoulou, 45, a social therapy nurse from Blackburn in Lancashire, and Robin Arnold, 56, a salesman from Cromer in Norfolk, were extradited to Albania from Britain in May. Brown’s shelter cared for 40 abandoned children and babies. It was raided by Albanian police in May 2006. Ten children, aged between four and 13, told Albanian police they had been sexually abused by Brown and the two Britons. In some cases the children claim to have been bound to a balcony, gagged and raped.

But an investigation has revealed that Britain’s National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) received details about abuse at the home 18 months earlier, in December 2004, and failed to tell their Albanian counterparts.

Brown gave members of NCIS, stationed in the region to fight organised crime, harrowing accounts of abuse suffered by boys at his home, but denied he was involved. Taking his word, officers decided not to inform Albanian police about the abuse.

Before speaking to the detectives, Brown sought advice from his friend Alan Moir, a retired police superintendent from Inverness. Moir, 64, who supported the running of the home, convened a meeting at a hotel in the capital with officers from NCIS. At that meeting Brown claimed that Christodoulou, whom he had allowed to return to Blackburn, had sexually abused the children behind his back. He did not say anything about Arnold’s alleged involvement and claimed to have had no prior knowledge that children were being harmed.

“We made a decision that we would not report [the abuse] to the authorities,” said Moir. “We knew what would happen – someone would be arrested and the children would be back on the street.”

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