It's not just men who are paedophiles - female ones exist too. Here we take a look at women who have committed these unthinkable crimes - and what drove them to such evil...
Paedophiles are normally thought of as men. People assume women simply aren’t capable of sexually abusing children. But female paedophiles exist.
Shocking figures show the extent of child abuse committed by women. The charity ChildLine revealed that more than 10 per cent of calls they’d received reporting sexual abuse over the past year were from children who had been harmed by women.
It had previously been estimated that women commit five per cent of all sexual offences against children. However, experts now believe that figure could be much higher as women find it easier to hide their crimes because people believe most women are incapable of harming children.
Speaking to The Independent, Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC sexual abuse programme, said, ‘The ChildLine calls we get indicate it’s a bigger scale than we thought. It’s not on a par with male offending but it’s probably higher than five per cent. It’s harder to detect because of societal attitudes.’
It is thought women child sex-offenders usually fit into one of three categories: the ‘teacher-lover’ or ‘Mrs. Robinson’ type who has sex with underage boys; the ‘predisposed’ sex offender – who are likely to have been victims of child abuse themselves; and the ‘male-coerced’ or ‘male-accompanied’ offender.
Claude Knight, CEO of charity of child protection charity, Kidscape, says, ‘It’s hard to gauge what a female paedophile’s motives would be. It’s often about power, not sex. And it’s not unusual for these women to have been abused themselves. The more sinister female child abusers work alone – and their motivation will be highly clinical.’
UK: Vanessa George
Vanessa George began working a Little Ted’s nursery in Plymouth in September 2006. At first the tots thought of her as cuddly, while her workmates thought she was as bubbly and fun – the life and soul of their social events.
But then in the autumn 2008 George met Colin Blanchard on the Internet. Both had a fascination with dark sexual fantasies and child abuse. And, at Little Ted’s, George had access to very young children.
She began assaulting infants, aged between 2 and 5, taking photos on her mobile and sending snaps to Blanchard. George would assault toddlers while changing their nappies, with her back to other staff.
Blanchard, 39, from Rochdale, forwarded the photos to Angela Allen, 39, from Nottingham. However, the paedo ring was busted in June 2009 when Blanchard’s colleague stumbled across images on his laptop.
George was arrested and the nursery was shut down. One image of a child included a glimpse of a Little Ted’s T-shirt.
At Bristol Crown Court, George, then 40, from Plymouth admitted seven sexual assaults and six counts of making and distributing indecent pictures of children. She was given an indeterminate sentence, and must serve at least seven years.
Blanchard was jailed for a minimum of nine years, Allen, to a minimum of five years, while two other women were also jailed for their part in the paedophile ring.
USA: Charlotte Mae Thrailkill
Back in 1988, Charlotte Mae Thrailkill, then 27, began abusing children with her boyfriend, Daryl Ball.
Ball and his young sons had moved in with Thrailkill in Santa Rosa, California, where Ball introduced her to sex with children. According to police records, Thrailkill molested his sons, and not only was Ball aware of this, he joined her in having sex with other children.
Thrailkill told psychiatrists she had sex a couple of times a day with children and with as many as five children at a time. Victims also included other neighbourhood children. They’d lure the kids into their flat or offer to babysit. The abuse went on for eight months, during which Thrailkill drank and used methamphetamine.
The couple would threaten the children that their parents of siblings would be killed if they told – but one did tell.
Thrailkill and Ball were arrested. Ball pleaded no contest to several counts of lewd and lascivious conduct upon children and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Thrailkill was jailed for 14 years after pleading no contest to lewd and lascivious acts with five children, including two 5-year-old boys, two boys aged 6 and 8, and a 7-year-old girl.
She was paroled in September 1994, but in September 1998, after two parole violations, Thrailkill was certified as a sexually violent predator and sent to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino County.
Australia: Deborah Goulopoulos
When Deborah Goulopoulos’ marriage broke down, she turned to her kids and their friends for emotional attachment.
She soon met her 13-year-old victim – then a Year 7 student. She’d party with him and his friends. Goulopoulos groomed the youngster from Melbourne, showing him pornography and plying him with drugs and alcohol before their first sexual encounter.
Goulopoulos, was 42, the boy just 13, when they first had sex in her home in 2002. The sexual relationship lasted more than two-years, ending when her victim was 16. ‘It was continuous,’ said her young victim, claiming they’d frequently have unprotected sex.
During that time she showered him with $39,000 (£20,000) worth of gifts, as well as funding an expensive drug habit. Goulopoulos even had sex with her victim in the back seat of a car close to his friends.
In court the victim described Goulopoulos as a predator who preyed on helpless children and said on some occasions she’d slept with him while her children were sleeping in the same room.
Other times, Goulopoulos would phone the victim’s school pretending to be his mother to get him out of class so they could have sex.
The victim told the court in Melbourne that Goulopoulos got him addicted to speed.
In November 2012 Goulopoulos pleaded guilty to one charge of persistent sexual abuse of a child under 16. She was sentenced to a maximum of seven years imprisonment, and ordered to serve at least five years before being released. She was also placed on the sexual offenders’ register.