British Woman Posed as Teenage Boy to Sexually Assault Young Girls in 'Truly Shocking' Case of Deception

A British woman who posed as a teenage boy online so she could groom and assault girls has been jailed.

Gemma Watts, 21, was described by police as a "deceitful woman" after she was sentenced to eight years in jail at Winchester Crown Court, South England, for admitting a string of sex offenses against girls as young as 13.

During a joint investigation by London's Metropolitan Police and Hampshire Police, detectives ruled that Watts had spun a "bizarre and elaborate web of deception" in order to meet teenage girls she had been talking to on social media.

Watts had created profile for a fake teenage boy named "Jake Waton" on apps such as Facebook, Snapchat, Yubo and Instagram to talk to girls, even disguising her appearance to make her seem more like a teenage boy.

After gaining the girls' trust, Watts would arrange to meet up with her victims under the guise of this false identity and sexually assault them.

An investigation was launched after a 14-year-old girl reported being abused by her boyfriend "Jake Waton" in April 2018. Two further juvenile victims also reported being groomed and assaulted by Watts under the same alias.

Winchester Crown Court heard how one of Watts' victims came across the defendant via a YouTube comment before talking with each other via Snapchat.

The pair later met in person in November 2017, with Watts meeting the girl's parents while disguised as a teenage boy, even staying on the sofa at their home.

Prosecutor Barnaby Shaw told the court that Watts assaulted her victim every night and every morning while staying at the victim's family home. The victim also challenged Watts about her gender.

"Members of the family remarked that there were particular things said and done that caused them initial concern, but it was apparent by the evidence given by both parents that Gemma Watts was adept at manipulating people and continuing the subterfuge that she did," Shaw added.

Watts, of Pembroke Avenue, Enfield, was arrested at her home in July 2018 for a number of sexual offenses. Watts admitted to grooming the girls as "Jake Waton" and partially admitted some of the sexual assault allegations were true.

While out on bail, Watts continued to groom girls online and was re-arrested in October 2018 in the West Midlands area of England after she was found with a 15-year-old girl who had been reported missing. It was later found that Watts had also sexually assaulted the 15-year-old.

Watts eventually pleaded guilty to seven sexual offenses at Winchester Crown Court on November 28, 2019, including sexual assault, meeting a child following sexual grooming and assault by penetration. She has now been jailed for eight years at the same court.

Police fear Watts may have more victims after becoming aware of other girls who had spoken to "Jake" online across the country.

Following her sentencing, Police Constable Nicola Benson, from Hampshire Constabulary's Missing and Exploited Team, said: "The level of manipulation and deceit used by Watts to snare her victims in this case 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."

Detective Inspector Mark Rogers, from the Metropolitan Police, added: "Thankfully, these types of crimes are rare.

"However, it is important that parents, guardians and everyone who works with young people takes an interest in what children are doing on the internet and educates them about the risks associated with using social media."

Gemma Watts
Gemma Watts has been jailed for eight years after posing as a boy named 'Jake' to assault teenage girls. Met Police

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