Woman sexually groomed 50 girls by posing as 16-year-old boy, stuffed socks in shorts to fake penis: Police

While being physically intimate with her victims, she stuffed rolled-up socks into her shorts to that they would think she had a penis and made an excuse for her breasts saying they were “man boobs” because she had previously been overweight.


                            Woman sexually groomed 50 girls by posing as 16-year-old boy, stuffed socks in shorts to fake penis: Police
Gemma Watts (Metropolitan police)

A 21-year-old woman who disguised herself as a teenage boy to sexually groom teenage girls online and then went around the country to sexually abuse them has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Gemma Watts, 21, disguised herself as 16-year-old "Jake Waton" by wearing a baseball cap, baggy jogging bottoms, and a hoodie, and tying her long hair up in a bun. She then went online and befriended girls aged 14 to 16 by liking their profiles - most of whom had previously been bullied and had low self-esteem - all under the pretext of being a boy.

Watts, who lived at home with her mother in Enfield, north London, was jailed for seven offences involving four girls, but authorities believe she may have groomed as many as 50 teenagers and are appealing for other victims to come forward.

Online, she shared skateboarding videos, used teenage slang and complimented them with pet names such as “babe” to sell her con. 

The defendant used WhatsApp, Snapchat, or texting apps to exchanges intimate messages and photos before calling them to meet up in person across various locations in England. While being physically intimate with her victims, she stuffed rolled-up socks into her shorts to that they would think she had a penis and made an excuse for her breasts saying they were “man boobs” because she had previously been overweight, the Guardian reported. 

She even physically assaulted one of her victims by holding a knife to her throat on one occasion. 

She was so convincing as a boy that even some of her victims' parents that she met during her various relationships believed that she was a teenage boy till the Metropolitan police told them that she was in fact an adult woman. “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," Detective Constable Phillipa Kenwright from the Metropolitan police said.

“For some of these girls it was their first relationship … She’s duped them the whole time. 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.”

Two of the victims had since made several suicide attempts because of their experiences, the court heard. 

After she was arrested, Watts told the police that she treated the con as a game. “I was only trying to cheer them up," she said. 

While judge Susan Evans accepted that Watts had a low IQ, was immature, had issues about her own sexuality, she also stated that the accused's actions were predatory. And although she had no prior convictions, she subjected her victims to severe psychological harm. 

Watts was originally taken into custody in July 2018 after a doctor raised concerns that a girl was in a relationship with an older boy. The Hampshire police did let Watts go free with a warning after she admitted that she had been sexually active as Jake with the first three victims. She was arrested again in October by British Transport Police officers after she was found with a fourth girl from the West Midlands, who was reported missing from home by her parents. 

“It seems that nothing deterred you,” the judge said while handing down her verdict. 

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