A 21-year-old woman has been sentenced to eight years in jail for posing as a teenage boy online to groom and sexually assault young girls.
The UK’s Metropolitan Police are concerned Gemma Watts, from Enfield, could have assaulted up to 50 teenage girls as young as 14, according to The Sun, by posing on social media as a 16-year-old boy named Jake Waton or Jake Watton, even while under investigation.
Watts made contact with her victims on messaging apps Facebook, Snapchat, Yubo and Instagram.
The 21-year-old 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”, Detective Constable Phillipa Kenwright said in a media release on Friday.
An investigation was launched after Hampshire Police received reports from a medical professional that a 14-year-old girl had reported being sexually assaulted by her boyfriend, ‘Jake Waton’, in April 2018.
Metropolitan Police uncovered ‘Jake Waton’ was actually Watts and identified another two underage victims who also reported being groomed and sexually assaulted by Watts under her alias.
Police executed a search warrant at Watts’ home in July 2018 and arrested her for a number of serious sexual offences.
Investigators said Watts was released on bail as investigations continued, even after she confessed to grooming the victims and partially admitted to a number of the assaults.
#JAILED | Woman who spun ‘web of lies and deceit’ to groom & sexually assault teenage girls sentenced to 8 years in prison— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) January 10, 2020
Gemma Watts, 21, pretended to be 16 year old 'Jake Waton' to entrap her unsuspecting victims on social media sites
Read more 👉 https://t.co/Xtf1VvfGU5 pic.twitter.com/kNf3kvc7ZB
Police Constable Nicola Benson, from Hampshire Constabulary’s Missing and Exploited Team, said the case demonstrated the reality of how vulnerable children were when using social media.
“The level of manipulation and deceit used by Watts to snare her victims in this case was truly shocking,” she said.
PC Benson praised the victims in the case.
“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,” she said.
Metropolitan Police have asked anyone with information to contact the Internet Watch Foundation.
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