A 12-year-old girl who exchanged messages with a pedophile is facing criminal charges for ‘luring’ him to rape her.
A girl who was pressured into sending a topless photo of herself to the online pedophile, has been told by British police that she could face charges.
The child says she felt pressured into sending the images to the child rapist because she was “too scared” to say no, as he aggressively bombarded her with threats if she failed to send him a naked photo.
When her mother found out, she immediately raised the alarm with police and child protective agencies. But while the pedophile remains a free man, the girl faces a police investigation and possible prosecution.
The girl’s furious mother now says she regrets contacting the authorities:
“She’s the victim. She was coerced into sending it. There’s a pedophile out there yet they’re talking about criminalizing a little girl.
“She’s scared, upset, worrying about what is going to happen and I’m questioning if I did the right thing in reporting it.
“My child is a victim of grooming but now she might be branded a criminal.
“If this is happening it could put other parents off reporting abuse. How many people actually knew this was the law?”
Mirror.co.uk reports: The mum spoke after reporting the incident to police and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection unit, part of the National Crime Agency.
She said an officer from CEOP said her daughter could be charged.
And a spokesman for the NCA confirmed creating or sharing explicit images of a child is illegal even if the person doing so is a child.
The mum had given her daughter the iPad to keep in touch with friends after the family moved from northern England to the South.
When she later checked her daughter’s Instagram account she found a suspected groomer – using just a heart emoji and Chelsea football badge as ID – had sent obscene messages and requests for pictures.
The mum said: “There was a person who sent her a love heart emoji, then within about three messages he was asking her to send a picture.
“At first she said ‘no’ but it just escalated, constant messages saying ‘please, please, please’, begging her to do it.”
In the end the youngster sent a photo of herself in her T-shirt – but the messages continued, pleading for more photos. Foolishly, the girl ended up sending a topless image.
Her mum added: “The only relief was she hadn’t included her face on the photo. Then the messages started getting even more graphic, asking for more pictures in different positions.
“It was scary and it was disgusting. Thankfully she ended the conversation and didn’t send anything else.
“I checked this man’s profile and it looked fake. We don’t know who he is.”
After finding the messages the mum went online and reported the incident to CEOP. They advised her to call police, which she did.
The girl was interviewed, the iPad was taken for examination and the matter was passed to child protection officers.
But the mum was left furious after receiving a follow-up call from the CEOP, saying the girl could get a record. The mum went on: “I couldn’t believe it. How can the victim end up with a criminal record? She’s a young, innocent girl who has made a big, big mistake.
“But calling her a criminal? How is that in the public interest?”
A spokesman for the National Crime Agency said: “The NCA always puts victim care and safeguarding of children and young persons first and foremost.
“In this instance we understand the child sent an image of herself to another person. If a young person is found creating or sharing images, the police must record a crime, in line with Home Office Counting Rules, and investigate.
“They have discretion not to take formal action if it isn’t in the public interest to do so.
“Police are encouraged to take a common sense approach that does not criminalise children unnecessarily.”
The mum and daughter are currently on tenterhooks while the police investigation into her continues.
NSPCC figures for England and Wales show more than 3,000 sex crimes were committed against children targeted online in 2015-16. Billy Howarth, from Parents Against Grooming, said: “This is a ridiculous law. It’s going to put people off coming forward to report paedophiles. They should be supporting this child and her mum.
“The girl has been through an horrendous ordeal and now she has this worry hanging over her.
“The focus should be on catching the paedophile, not scaring a 12-year-old kid. I hope common sense prevails.”