Sex offender stayed in Leeds women's refuge 'for 71 days' as campaigners protest Leeds Council over 'scandal'

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A campaign group is asking politicians how a child sex offender was allowed to live in a Leeds women’s refuge for “71 days”.

Protesters from the Leeds ReSisters group will today hand out letters to members of Leeds City Council, asking how Katie Dolatowski was allowed to enter Leeds Domestic Violence Service earlier this year.

Leeds Women’s Aid said it was “appalled” that someone had abused its services in such a way. It said it was conducting a thorough investigation and was taking the issue "extremely seriously".

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Dolatowski had a previous conviction in Scotland for attacking a child in a supermarket toilet.

The protests will take place outside Civic Hall.The protests will take place outside Civic Hall.
The protests will take place outside Civic Hall.

Leeds Women's Aid said it had not found evidence of "any crimes having been committed during the period" when Dolatowski was staying at the refuge.

A letter that the group Leeds ReSisters is set to hand to Leeds councillors outside today’s full council meeting stated: “It seems that in Leeds, Dolatowski, an imposing figure at 6’5” – used a false identity. What processes are in place to check the identity of people entering the refuge? Who are we safeguarding? Why is this predator given so many second chances without any regard for potential victims?

“We will not be protesting outside the refuge; we would not wish to compromise the safety of the women and children who live there. Instead, we have these questions for Leeds city councillors.

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“The Katie Dolatowski incident is a scandal – but sadly, it was scandal waiting to happen. Leeds Women’s Aid promises a ‘safe environment’ for women and children. How does Leeds City Council plan to ensure that this never happens again?”

The group argued that, as Dolatowski was a trans woman, the refuge should change its rules to only accept women that were born biologically female.

Dolatowski’s original offences took place in 2018 – having admitted sexually assaulting one child and filming another young girl using supermarket toilets in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermaline, Scotland.

As part of her sentence, she had to notify police of any change of address.

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It is understood that when Dolatowski was arrested at the Leeds Domestic Violence Service, she was taken to Scotland to be processed for breaking her notification requirements from the order.

A statement issued by Leeds Women's Aid said: “On September 9, 2022, a resident at the Leeds Domestic Violence Service (LDVS) refuge run by Leeds Women’s Aid (LWA) was taken into police custody. The individual had used an identity, and related official documents in the same name, to access the refuge, and in doing so they concealed their previous convictions for child sex offences.

“Once the person’s true identity and crimes were revealed, we alerted the police and the individual was taken into custody. At no time were we aware of their previous identity or crimes. LWA is taking this extremely seriously and we are undertaking a thorough investigation.

"We have not found evidence of any crimes having been committed during the period when the person was resident with us.

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“LWA’s priority remains victims-survivors, and we want all survivors to be able to access the support they need when accessing domestic abuse services.”

According to the Dundee Courier, Dolatowski appeared at Kirkcaldy Sherrif’s court, and was told: “Between 3/7/22 and 9/9/22 at Kirkcaldy Police station you did fail to comply with the notification requirements and fail to notify of a change of address within three days.”

Dolatowski, now 22, was placed on a four-month curfew as an alternative to a custodial sentence. But just two weeks later Dolatowski was back in the dock to admit breaching that curfew and this time was placed behind bars.

A four-month prison sentence was imposed in place of the curfew.

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Nik Peasgood, Chief Executive of Leeds Womens Aid, said: “We are appalled that someone with such crimes could come to a women’s refuge using a different identity. We are aware that a criminal using authenticated identification could access any housing provider’s services, and we are not unique in being manipulated in this way.

“We have informed children’s services and are working with our closest stakeholders, including Leeds City Council and Women’s Aid Federation England, and will share any learning with our sector in order to improve safety of victims-survivors.”