Woman who posed as teenage boy to sexually assault up to 50 teen girls has been jailed
A 21-year-old woman who posed as a teenage boy in order to sexually assault teenage girls has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Gemma Watts pleaded guilty on November 28, 2019, to seven charges related to the sexual assault and grooming of four victims. She was handed her sentence at Winchester Crown Court on January 10.
Watts, who is from Enfield, lured her victims by posing as a 16-year-old boy called “Jake Waton” or “Jake Watton” on social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Yubo and Instagram. She used her own photos on these platforms but disguised herself as a teenage boy by putting her hair in a bun and wearing a baseball cap as well as men’s clothes, BBC News reports.
Police believe Watts may have assaulted as many as 50 teenage girls. All of her victims believed they had been in a relationship with a teenage boy until police officers told them otherwise. She even won over some of the girls’ parents and spent time in their homes.
An investigation was launched after one of Gemma Watts’ victims spoke out.
Police began investigating after one of Watts’ 14-year-old victims told a medical professional that she had been sexually assaulted by her older boyfriend Jake Waton in April 2018.
The investigation revealed that Jake Waton was actually Gemma Watts. Police also discovered two more victims, both of whom were under 18 at the time of the attacks.
Police searched Watts’ home in July 2018 and she was arrested for the sexual assault and grooming of her teenage victims. She later admitted to some of the offences.
I am pleased that Watts has now received a custodial sentence, and I would like to commend the bravery of the girls and their families who found the courage to come forward and make this happen.
While out on bail, Watts continued to groom teenage girls, and she was found in October 2018 in West Midlands with a missing 15-year-old girl. The girl later told police that she had been sexually assaulted by Watts.
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Detective constable Philippa Kenwright said Watts had tricked her teenage victims into believing that they were in relationships with someone they could trust.
“She then went on to form physical relationships in which she spun a web of lies and deceit, giving her the opportunity to commit sexual offences,” Kenwright added.
PC Nicola Benson commended the teenage girls for coming forward.
Meanwhile, PC Nicola Benson of Hampshire Constabulary’s Missing and Exploited team said Watts’ behaviour was “truly shocking”.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation online with increased use of social media apps, and there is a real risk that any contact with a stranger online can lead to a child meeting an offender in person.
“This case demonstrates the stark reality of that, and it is astonishing the lengths that Watts went to, to ensure she could abuse these girls.
She continued: “I am pleased that Watts has now received a custodial sentence, and I would like to commend the bravery of the girls and their families who found the courage to come forward and make this happen. I want them to know that they are not in any way to blame for this, and hope they can now move on from this ordeal.”
Watts has been placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.