A gym instructor who groomed a 14-year-old girl for sexual activity at a York gym has been jailed for eight months.
Ben Towler, aged 36, from Greasbrough, Rotherham, denied five charges of sexual activity with a child. The jury convicted him of kissing the victim and acquitted him of the other four charges.
As well as being imprisoned, Towler was barred from working with children, made subject to a sexual harm prevention order and put on the sex offenders’ register, both for a period of 10 years.
He was sentenced at York Crown Court on 22 October.
The grooming took place between September and October 2010 when the youngster began to train at the gym Towler worked at in York.
Detective Constable Ali Morris, from North Yorkshire Police’s Non-Recent Abuse Investigation Team, led the investigation. She said:
Ben Towler was aged 25 when he befriended and flirted with the 14-year-old victim during the fitness sessions to which she arrived and left wearing her school uniform.
He invited her to his home to babysit while he went out with his wife. When he drove the victim home he complimented on her on her looks and said how grown-up she was for her age.
This soon developed into sexual activity to which the victim says she only went along with to keep Towler happy.
“This clearly amounts to sexual grooming on the part of Towler and shows how impressionable young people can be manipulated and taken advantage of by adults with dark intentions.”
The brave victim reported the matter to North Yorkshire Police in March 2018.
DC Morris and the investigation team carried out extensive enquiries which led to Towler being summonsed to York Magistrates’ Court on 4 April 2019. The case was transferred to York Crown Court on 30 April.
DC Morris said: “It is never too late for victims to report such abuse, whether it happened last week or decades ago. The Non-Recent Abuse Investigation Team will seek justice against abusers and ensure victims are fully supported and cared for throughout.”
Reporting child abuse and seeking help
If you are in immediate danger, always dial 999 for an emergency response.
Victims who would prefer not to go direct to the police and are not in immediate danger, can contact Bridge House, North Yorkshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), on 0330 223 0362, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to bridgehousesarc.org.
You can also contact the Supporting Victims Unit direct at www.supportingvictims.org or call 01609 643100.
Help for adults concerned about a child – call 0808 800 5000
Help for children and young people – call Childline on 0800 1111
Go to nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse