At least 1,400 girls were left to be abused by Asian men because the authorities were too scared to admit there was a race issue, a report said yesterday.
Over a 16-year period, children as young as 11 were sexually exploited by gangs of men - most of them of Pakistani origin.
But police and council officials suppressed evidence of the crimes because they feared being labelled racist.
Despite the appalling failures in the case, no one in authority has been sacked or even disciplined. MPs and charities said the scale of the abuse was almost â??incomprehensibleâ?? and called for a criminal investigation into those who helped cover it up.
And at least six victims have now launched a class action against Rotherham council and could be in line for millions of pounds in compensation.
The devastating report by Professor Alexis Jay revealed that:
Staff were given 'clear directions' from managers to downplay the 'ethnic dimension' of the abuse despite almost all the perpetrators being of Pakistani heritage;
Three separate reports warning of the scale of the abuse were 'suppressed or ignored' by the council because it was 'in denial' about the crimes;
Serious discussions about sexual abuse were impossible because of the 'macho' and 'sexist' culture at the Labour-controlled council;
Police treated victims and their families as if they were to blame for the abuse, and took no action against the paedophiles;
The victims were left so traumatised that one tried to throw herself in front of moving cars and another said she 'might as well be dead'
Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the report, said she found examples of 'children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally-violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone'.
She said: 'They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten and intimidated.'
She said she found that girls as young as 11 had been raped by large numbers of men.
The spotlight fell on Rotherham in 2010, after Laura Wilson, 17, was murdered for bringing shame on the families of two Pakistani men who had used her for sex.
It was later revealed that social workers had known for six years that the white teenage mother was at clear risk from predatory Asian gangs, and had received information about certain adults suspected of targeting her from the age of 11.
Laura, 17, had been groomed by a string of British Pakistanis before she was stabbed and thrown into a canal to die for informing her abusers' families of the sexual relationships.
In 2012, the council's Safeguarding Children Board published a serious case review but key passages which reveal they knew she was at particular risk from 'Asian men' had been blocked out with black lines. The council went to court in an attempt to tried to suppress the hidden information after a uncensored copy of the report was leaked to the Times newspaper but they abandoned legal action.
On one ocassion married father-of-two Arshid Hussain was even caught with the half naked schoolgirl under his bed but documents revealed that police arrested her - and let him go.
Professor Jay said the first report was 'effectively suppressed' because senior officers did not believe the data. The other two were ignored.