A woman posing as a teenage boy for sexually assaulted girls as young as 13 have been jailed for eight years. 21, Gemma Watts, disguised her long hair tying it in a bun and wearing a baseball cap, and even baggy jogging downstairs and wearing a hoodie to convince youngsters she was 16-year-old “Jake Watson”.
Watt “was adept at both manipulating and continuing deceit,” prosecutor Barnaby Shaw told her at a sentencing hearing at Winchester Crown Court on Friday.
Police believe that Watts, who lived at home with her mother in Enfield, North London, possibly attacked between 20 and 50 girls, who did not realize she was a woman. One of her teenage victims, in an impact statement read to the court, said that her “heart exploded” when police revealed to her Watt’s true identity.
In one instance, watts sexually abused the girl in her mother’s bedroom.
Watts used Snapchat and Instagram to target girls between the ages of 14 and 16 by liking their profiles.
Watt will share skateboarding videos, teens cant use and flatter girls with complimentary messages, calling her “babe” or other pet names before swapping messages and intimate photos and eventually meeting them in person.
Even his disguise offline is so convincing that he spent time as Jake with some of the girls’ parents.
The girls wholeheartedly believe that they were in a relationship with a teenage boy until the authorities revealed that she was, in fact, an adult woman. The court heard how Watts lied to a girl about why her bedroom was pink, saying it was because of a female cousin.
Watts pleaded guilty in November to seven sexual harassment and grooming charges in the same court.
He pleaded guilty to belonging to four girls, including 13-year-old and 2-year-old children from Hampshire and 16-year-olds from Surrey, Plymouth, and the West Midlands.
Sentencing him, Judge Susan Evans QC said: “I think, there is no planning and some violent behavior.”
“Their age, as you knew, made it more likely that they would be sexually naive, to enable you to participate with their deception.
“None of them would have consented to sexual activity with you.
“You prepared each of them with telephone and internet contact to deceive each of them as your identity.”
Judge Evans said that Watts caused “serious psychological harm.” Still, he is admitted serving as low intelligence, guilty plea, lack of previous convictions, and a relatively small degree of mitigation on time.
In one case, when Watts was staying at the house of one of his victims for several days, the family members became suspicious of the things he said and did.
In a statement read out in court, ‘one of the Watt victims said she had a “heart explosion” and “shut down the world” when police told her “Jake” was an adult woman.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “When the police told me Jake was actually called Gemma, I thought it wasn’t genuine.”
He said that he had harmed himself and has since considered suicide and said: “He is in my head.”
Another victim also described the devastating impact of Watts’ crimes, saying: “I always wonder if there is anything new that they say they are.
“I put a lot of faith in Jake, and I think it was all just a lie.”
Detective Constable Philippa Kenwright from the Metropolitan Police said she believed there were more victims.
“I think there will be further victims, who were in a relationship with watts, who will now realize that she is a woman. She said I think there might be 20 to 50.”
Patrick Maggs, defending Watt, said he understood it was humiliating to be “serious.”
“Gemma Watts was an adult, and she was a responsibility, a responsibility held by any adult, towards those children.
“At the time, I say that it is relevant that he operates in the ceremony as a much younger person than in his years.
“Gemma Watts low IQ, along with her immaturity, would invite the court to represent that she was almost certainly going to try to socialize with those who were younger than herself.
“And whatever it was posing as a boy, Gemma Watts was a sign of failing to cope with her sexuality fully.”
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