Saturday, January 11, 2020

Woman posed as teenage boy to sexually assault up to 50 young girls across country

A woman posed as a teenage boy to sexually assault up to 50 girls as young as 14 after grooming them online, police have revealed today.

Gemma Watts, 21, travelled the country by train to meet the youngsters, who believed they were in a relationship with a boy close to their own age.

Disguised with her long hair tied into a bun and wearing a baseball cap, baggy jogging bottoms and a hoodie, Watts convinced them she was 16-year-old "Jake Waton".

She used her own picture on Jake's Snapchat and Instagram accounts, targeting girls aged 14-16 by liking their profiles.


Watts, who lived at home with her mother in Enfield, north London, shared skateboarding videos, used teenage slang and flattered them with complimentary messages, calling them "babe" or other pet names.

She would then swap messages with victims, including intimate photographs, using WhatsApp, Snapchat, or text, and speak over the phone before meeting them in person.

Watts was so convincing that she even spent time as Jake with some of the girls' parents.

And all of Watts' victims believed they were in a relationship with a teenage boy until police revealed she was in fact an adult woman.

Watts, who once had a promising football career, is facing jail after pleading guilty to seven sexual assault and grooming charges.

The offences relate to four girls, including a 14-year-old from Hampshire and three 15-year-olds from Surrey, Plymouth and the West Midlands.

Watts is due to be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court later today following a joint investigation by the Met and Hampshire police.

Detective Constable Phillipa Kenwright, from the Metropolitan Police, said: "It's been life-changing for all of the victims involved. They believed they were in a relationship with a young teenage boy, to then find out this was actually a female.

"For some of these girls it was their first relationship... She's duped them the whole time," she continued.

"A lot of these victims are young, quite innocent. They have been completely taken in by Gemma Watts. They all believed they were in a relationship with a male."

Investigators have identified a total of seven victims, some of whom don't want to give a statement.

But DC Kenwright said: "I think there will be further victims, who were in a relationship with Watts, who will now realise she is a woman.

"A lot of these victims are young, innocent and have been completely taken in by Jake Waton.

"I think she had been grooming other young victims online using social media profiles, which are very believable."

Watts first came to the attention of Hampshire police in March 2018 after a doctor raised concerns that a girl was in a relationship with an older boy.

DC Kenwright added: "If the first known victim had not approached her doctor, Watts might not have been brought to police attention and could have continued offending for a very long time.

Scotland Yard secured a civil Sexual Risk Order in November 2018, in a bid to protect the public, which Watts breached just two weeks later.

She was held on remand after being arrested for sexual assault in March last year but was free again in August when she was acquitted.

Watts was finally charged in September and pleaded guilty to seven offences in November, which include:

- Assault by penetration, sexual assault and grooming against 14-year-old girl from Hampshire;

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