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Cops: Woman Posed as Boy, Seduced Teen Girls

Gemma Watts, 21, may have sexually assaulted up to 50 victims, police say
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2020 9:00 AM CST
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Gemma Watts as herself, left, and as "Jake Waton."   (Metropolitan Police Service)

(Newser) – A 21-year-old UK woman has been accused of posing as a teen boy, grooming four teen girls online, then meeting up with and sexually assaulting them—and cops say she could have as many as 50 victims all together. Per the BBC, police say Gemma Watts pretended she was 16-year-old "Jake Waton," hiding her real identity by shoving her hair under a baseball cap and wearing baggy pants and a hoodie like a boy would wear, after which she'd seek out girls ages 14 to 16 on Snapchat and Instagram, then "like" their posts. The Guardian notes Watts would show the girls skateboarding videos and ingratiate herself with them by calling them "babe" and other terms of endearment. During this grooming period, per police, Watts and her victims also shared intimate photos and chatted on the phone before arranging to meet in person.

Police say Watts, who lives with her mother in the London borough of Enfield, would then travel by train to meet her alleged victims, and she pulled off her disguise so well she even met some of the girls' parents. Cops say the girls had no idea Watts was a woman until they were alerted by authorities. Watts' alleged scheme fell apart in March 2018 when one of the four girls—they were a 14-year-old and three 15-year-olds—told a Hampshire doctor she was in a relationship with an older boy, and the doctor went to the police. In July of that year, Watts confessed to cops that as "Jake," she'd been sexually active with three girls. She was released, then busted again that October with a fourth victim on a train. In November, she pleaded guilty to assault by penetration, meeting a child following sexual grooming, and sexual assault—but a Metropolitan Police rep says she could have "20 to 50" victims in total. (Read more sexual assault stories.)

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