MANCHESTER, England, May 8 (UPI) -- A jury convicted nine men in England Tuesday for their roles in a child sex ring.
The jury, which delivered its verdicts following an 11-week trial, cleared two other men on all charges against them, the Manchester Evening News reported. All of the defendants were from the Rochdale and Oldham areas.
The nine who were found guilty are to be sentenced Wednesday, The Mirror said.
They were convicted of abusing five vulnerable girls between 2008 and 2010, but authorities believe there were as many as 47 victims -- some of them as young as 13 who were runaways or in the care of social services -- and perhaps as many as 50 other men may have taken part.
Most of the men are taxi drivers and restaurant workers from Rochdale's Pakistani community and were married with children, the Evening News said. Prosecutors said they gave the girls free food and alcohol while grooming them for sex.
"These offenses are the worst offenses you can possibly imagine against vulnerable young children," Greater Manchester Detective Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle said after the verdicts. "Let's not shy away from the fact the victims are children. It was pure evil. They were exploiting the vulnerable in our society for their own gratification.
"They groomed their victims who introduced them to other girls. They would supply them with alcohol and kebabs and free taxi rides and actually some of the girls thought they were in a genuine relationship. It was sustained.
"They were raped and subjected to humiliation and degradation. You cannot think of a worse set of offenses. In some instance it was several men at a time."