Manchester police have received ‘significant number’ of calls to major incident hotline
Detectives are investigating new allegations against the most persistent rapist in legal history amid an unprecedented increase in male victims contacting helplines to report sexual abuse.
Greater Manchester police said on Friday they had received a “significant number” of calls to a dedicated major incident hotline launched after the sentencing of Reynhard Sinaga on Monday.
The force declined to reveal how many potential new victims had come forward but said it would “fully investigate all reports” as part of its ongoing inquiry into the 36-year-old.
Sinaga, a PhD student originally from Indonesia, was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 30 years in prison after being convicted of 159 counts of rape or sexual assault against 48 men between January 2015 and June 2017.
A small team of five police officers and four specially trained support officers have been manning a dedicated hotline set up in the expectation that dozens more possible victims of Sinaga will come forward.
Police believe the former university student attacked at least 195 victims, including the 48 whose cases were brought to court, over a period that could stretch back to 2007, when he first arrived in the UK.
Detectives will seek to interview Sinaga at Strangeways prison in Manchester if the investigation into any potential new offences progresses to that stage. He has never spoken to professionals during his two years in custody on the advice of his legal team, meaning the true scale of his offending remains unclear.
While the police investigation continues, the worldwide coverage of the case has prompted a flood of male victims to contact helplines about sexual abuse they have suffered – many breaking their silence after decades.
The charity Safeline said it had seen a 500% increase in calls to its national hotline for male survivors of sexual abuse since Sinaga’s sentencing on Monday – the biggest rise in its history.
Neil Henderson, its chief executive, said the huge increase in contacts this week compared with a 300-400% rise following the football abuse scandal in 2016.
Survivors Manchester, the charity supporting several of Sinaga’s victims, said it had also experienced a rise in the number of people seeking help, from an average of two a day usually to 57 new referrals between Monday and Friday morning.
Duncan Craig, its founder, described the case as a “watershed moment” for the perception of male rape. He said it had bust “the myth” that rape only happened to gay men and started a national conversation about men opening up about sexual abuse.
“What it’s done inadvertently is open a window of opportunity to male survivors which they’re now jumping through,” he said.
Craig, a trained therapist, said there now needed to be a wider discussion about how night-time safety campaigns were always aimed at women, when they applied equally to men.
“The whole world effectively is talking about how it’s possible for men to be raped, how we need to talk about safety and rethink messaging,” he said. “When pubs and clubs and alcohol campaigns are often talking about be careful of your drink it’s always aimed at women, but maybe we need to start having a wider conversation.”
Sinaga posed as a “good samaritan” to lure his intoxicated victims back to his flat in Manchester city centre, where he would spike their drink and sexually abuse them when they passed out, filming the whole encounter on two mobile phones. All but four of the men he assaulted were raped.