Skaf gang victim breaks 20-year silence

 

It has been almost two decades since a gang of serial rapists preyed on young girls across Sydney, forcing them to perform a series of sickening sexual acts described at the time as "worse than murder".

Bilal Skaf was the leader of the group of about 14 men who targeted young girls and brutally raped them in 2000.

At least six schoolgirls were raped in a rampage that lasted several weeks, but it has long been suspected there were more victims who didn't come forward.

Now another victim, 36-year-old Jessica, has come forward with allegations she was attacked six months before the original assaults were reported to police.

Speaking to Nine's A Current Affair, Jessica said she left home when she was just 16 and started living in a hostel.

Young, alone and desperate for companionship she made friends with another girl who invited her to hang out with her friends.

Jessica was just 16 when the alleged attack took place. Picture: A Current Affair/Channel 9
Jessica was just 16 when the alleged attack took place. Picture: A Current Affair/Channel 9

Jessica told the program she got into a car with a group of guys, including Skaf, who she alleged is one of the men who subjected her to hours of horrific abuse.

Eventually the group arrived at a park and entered a change room. It was at this point that a girl Jessica thought was her friend abandoned her.

"All of a sudden she just stood up and went with one of the other guys. She said 'Have fun' to [Skaf]," Jessica said.

Jessica alleges Skaf pulled out a knife and laser pointer and asked her if she wanted to have sex, to which Jessica said no.

It was at this point that he allegedly locked her inside the change room and started making phone calls.

"I knew something really bad was about to happen. Within ten minutes I heard another car turn up," Jessica said.

"I was petrified. By now I knew I need to get out of here or I need to do what I am told to get out of here or something just to get out alive."

Jessica said Bilal Skaf was the ring leader of the attack.
Jessica said Bilal Skaf was the ring leader of the attack.

Terrified, Jessica tried to escape but says she was thrown back into the room by Skaf.

"And then one guy dragged me by my hair into one of the cubicles and forced me to have oral sex with him," she said.

"From then on it was just constant. For hours and hours and hours."

Jessica claims she was held in that room and sexually assaulted by at least 15 men for at least six hours, with more people outside cheering them on.

"By the end of it I begged them to kill me," she said.

"I thought I can't live my life like this. You know how am I going to live with this in my head for the next 20 or 30 years?"

Eventually her attackers released her and dumped her at Punchbowl train station. Jessica went straight to Fairfield Police Station to report the attack.

"I remember walking into the police station and they said 'Oh, we've got another one'," she said.

Skaf was sentenced to 55 years behind bars in 2000.
Skaf was sentenced to 55 years behind bars in 2000.

Jessica said she didn't know the extent of the crimes the group had committed until she saw the other assaults being reported months later.

Just like Jessica's ordeal, the assaults all lasted for hours.

Former District Court judge, Michael Finnane QC, at the time described the acts carried out by the group as "worse than murder".

He handed down a record sentence to Skaf off 55 years in jail, however it was later reduced to 28 years.

"It was the first time there had been gang rapes that were sort of organised in a military way, with precision, organisation and using mobile phone technology," Mr Finnane said.

"[Skaf] was the leader. He was the undoubted leader and he was a very menacing sort of fellow."

Throughout the court process he showed no remorse and remained adamant all the sexual acts were consensual, despite more details of the groups horrific crimes coming forward.

In one instance Skaf's brother, Mohammed, lured a 16-year-old girl to a park in Greenacre, where he and two friends pressured her to have sex.

The girl refused, prompting Mohammed to call his brother who arrived with 11 other men.

The group dragged the girl into the park and watched as Skaf and another man brutally raped her.

Jessica said she was “proud” of the girls who came forward. Picture: A Current Affair/Channel 9
Jessica said she was “proud” of the girls who came forward. Picture: A Current Affair/Channel 9

Jessica said she was grateful to the girls who testified and put the men behind bars.

"Watching it later on and seeing all these girls that had to go through it and thinking I could have been the preventive. I could have stopped it from happening if I would have just said something and followed through with it," she said.

"I am so proud of those girls."

Jessica still suffers from post traumatic stress from the attack.

She said even just the smell of grass takes her back to the incident.

"I am guessing because they had just mown the grass in the park. Throughout the whole thing I could just smell freshly mown grass," she said.

Now, almost 20 years since the alleged attack, Jessica is ready to see her attackers punished.

She has gotten back in contact with police and found they still have crucial evidence from when she first reported the attack.

Bilal Skaf has never shown remorse for his crimes. His non-parole period ended last year and he is up for a parole review in January.



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