She now knows that it was coercion rather than choice. The sex began soon after Elly turned Roberts claimed in court that the child had touched him first and encouraged him to assault her. Elly's evidence was the opposite: her stepfather had begun touching her, and escalated to violating her with objects and then to full sexual intercourse. In the beginning he drugged Elly with Travacalm, videoed her and told her he could do anything to her while she was "asleep".
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He told Elly if she revealed what was happening to her mother, the girl could tear apart their family. Two years into the abuse, following the birth of the couple's fourth biological child together, Roberts began drugging Rachel. He laced her Diet Coke or wine with Travacalm tablets he crushed with a meat tenderiser. As the court heard during his three-week trial, this was to make his wife comatose so he could go downstairs and rape his stepdaughter. He had tried to groom Rachel's second daughter Sophie, molesting her twice while reading to her in bed. But the year-old had objected, and Roberts told her not to tell her mother because she would upset the family unit.
I think he was getting desperate because [Elly] was starting to fight back and get rid of him. In the last year before Rachel's family was torn apart by the discovery of Roberts's child crimes, his behaviour had altered. Rachel realises now he was controlling all of them and in particular Elly. Roberts forbade the teenager contact with boys her age. By day he was continually ticking her off. By night he was raping her. Rachel's constant fatigue, which would come on after drinking or eating something he prepared in the evening, was so chronic she gave it a nickname.
She would wake in the morning with dried saliva around her mouth. Travacalm causes drowsiness and a dry mouth, but the volumes Roberts fed to Rachel was burning the lining of her oesophagus. Because the drug contains a muscle relaxant, food began to stick in Rachel's throat; she could have easily choked in her sleep. Roberts had a glib response for when Rachel cried about feeling sick and so, so tired.
Rachel even joked about her tiredness in a Facebook post, writing "my dinner tasted weird tonight. I constantly feel tired and need sleep. Rachel was working hard.
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She had two jobs, running her own business, and lecturing full-time at a tertiary institution. Roberts had been a storeman and a salesman, but left his employment and became a "full-time Dad". A continuing theme of his rambling self defence at the trial was Roberts' claim he "did everything" for the children, that he was the perfect dad.
I'd save up and take them on holidays and I used to do these amazing parties for their birthdays.
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He was king of the castle. In the days beforehand, Roberts had been arguing with his stepdaughter about a too-short dress, and about her minding the younger children. With hindsight, it was clear this was a classic case of control by a paedophile, as recognised by psychologists. In support of her husband, Rachel arrived home and chided Elly about her lack of respect for her stepfather.
Rachel told Elly she was taking away her phone and her gym membership. A distraught Elly snaps, telling her mother that Roberts is "not my father" and telling him to explain to Rachel the background to the arguments. Feeling the ground shifting beneath her, Rachel began recording the argument on her iPhone. The explosive audio would later be played in court.
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A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew.
Her only hope of escape is Saif.
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