May 2017

Teenage girl who posed as a boy to groom underage girls for sex is jailed for nine years

A teenage girl who pretended to be a boy to groom underage schoolgirls for sex has been locked up for more than nine years.

Chantelle Johnson, 19, invented seven fictional characters to con the three girls.

She created a bogus family with a fake child’s funeral and a dying father in the complex subterfuge.

Her crimes came to light when the suspicious mum of one of the girls, who had seemingly been communicating with a boy of her age, uncovered her lies.

To her horror, she discovered the boy did not exist and it was in fact Johnson, a young woman several years older than her child.

Under the guise of the boy, Johnson lured the girl with flattery and compliments on social media before turning to sexual talk.

She made sexual suggestions but the girl said she was too young, Teesside Crown Court heard from prosecutor Paul Cleasby.

Johnson met the girl disguised as the boy but never showed her full face, once claiming to wear a tightly-fastened hood because of a head injury.

On another occasion, the defendant faked an asthma attack to avoid the mum’s challenge to take off her hood

She also contacted the girl as herself saying the non-existent boy was “head over heels” for her, drawing the young victim in further.

They met repeatedly, kissed and took part in sexual activity.

She concocted a second fictitious boy who messaged another girl, persuading her to send pictures of her in underwear.

Meetings were arranged with that phantom boy but he never turned up.

A third fake persona was created to send more messages to the second girl as Johnson manipulated the victims.

She claimed the first fake boy had an eight-year-old sister who had died of a heart complaint and invited the girls to the funeral.

“The whole scenario was made up,” said Mr Cleasby. “No death had occurred and no funeral took place.”

She created a fourth character, said to be the father of that boy, to encourage liaisons.

She later claimed the father was seriously ill and had hours to live.

She fabricated three more false profiles, also claiming to be the boy’s family members, to bolster the intricate fraud.

It emerged Johnson had sexually abused a third girl, this time as herself, kissing and touching her and persuading her to take part in sexual activity online.

She used one of the false personas to gain the girl’s trust in a “sophisticated grooming process”.

Even after she was banned from seeing the girl, she hung around her school to speak to her.

Johnson told police she did it because she was lonely and made up the profiles to make the girls feel sorry for her.

She left a snapped SIM card in the back of a police car in an attempt to destroy evidence.

Johnson, from Middlesbrough, admitted 12 charges of meeting girls following sexual grooming, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, sexual assault, causing a girl to be involved in pornography and perverting the course of justice.

A psychologist’s report said Johnson’s lack of empathy and selfishness could explain her behaviour.

Judge Howard Crowson said this was “rather worrying”, given Johnson’s “clear ability to manipulate and construct plausible lies” as she exploited and corrupted girls.