The Rochdale grooming case has struck a raw nerve in many communities across Britain and divided opinion as to whether race played a part.
The judge Gerald Clifton discounted the idea saying that the nine guilty men had been driven by lust and greed and that race was not a "trigger."
But he did suggest that cultural influences were relevant.
He told the defendants they had treated the victims as "worthless" and added: "One of the factors leading to that was the fact that they were not part of your community or religion."
Greater Manchester Police have argued that race and culture were not relevant. They point out that 95% of the sex offenders on their register are white.
But there are undoubtedly significant differences depending on which type of grooming is examined.
A recent study for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre found that of 753 offenders involved in on-street grooming almost half were of Asian heritage.
And one organisation representing young Muslims in Britain - the Ramadhan Foundation - is in no doubt. Leader Mohammed Shafiq said: "It is a race issue. Let's be clear about that.
"These are Asian gangs. These are Asian men, Asian criminals particularly of Pakistani origin and nine out of ten victims are white."
He and others have expressed the view that political correctness may be blurring the true extent of street grooming and blunting the effectiveness of policing.
The Education Secretary Michael Gove said it was something that needed to be examined.
The police and CPS made a series of mistakes which had huge knock-on effects for the young girls involved.
Sky correspondent Nick Martin
Mr Gove said: "It's a horrific case and the behaviour of these men was absolutely repellent, which is why I am pleased that they’ve been sentenced in the way they have, but we need to learn some lessons.
"I have asked Sue Berelowitz from the office of the children’s commissioner to accelerate an investigation that was already going on into the sexual exploitation of children, so that she can make recommendations to me within a month, about how we can ensure that children who are in these homes are kept safe from this sort of disgusting activity."
Stories continue to emerge from Lancashire and elsewhere about cases similar to the one which has plagued the former mill town of Heywood over the past few years.
They too involve allegations of young white girls being preyed upon by gangs of men of Asian descent. The controversy created by the eleven-week trial looks set to continue.