A Croydon care home owner who repeatedly raped an employee over an 18-month period was sentenced to 15 years yesterday.
James Safo, 62, subjected his 30-year-old victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to “violent” and “brutal” sexual assaults from June 2007 to December 2008. The second half of his sentence will be suspended and he will remain on the sex offenders register for life.
The court heard how Safo had threatened to “make life difficult” for his victim by reporting her to the Home Office for being in breach of her student visa if she resisted his sexual advances.
Safo was the principal and owner of The Secretary College in Croydon, as well as running four nursing homes across Croydon and Surrey. His victim was studying healthcare at his college. She also worked at one of Safo’s care homes and lived in a property he owned.
Ms Hanna Llewellyn-Waters, for the prosecution, said Safo – as the victim’s landlord and employer – effectively ruled her life.
Judge Simon Pratt told the 62-year-old: “Your course of conduct involved you abusing your position as college principal and employer to force her to have private meetings so your sexual attacks could happen.”
The victim told the court that she had lived in fear of Safo and his threats of deportation and was “deeply ashamed” by the attacks.
Previous allegations of rape were made against Safo in 2001 but the Metropolitan Police closed the case after a “thorough investigation”. Following new allegations in 2009, this earlier case was reopened but Safo was acquitted in February 2010.
Detective Sergeant Gary Small, the investigating officer from the Met’s Sapphire Command, said: “We hope that the sentence imposed upon Mr Safo today will in some way be of comfort to the victim in this case and will help her in her efforts to move forward following her traumatic experiences.
“This is a clear message that the Metropolitan Police service will pursue relentlessly those who commit offences of this nature and if convicted they can expect a lengthy term of imprisonment.”