A man who identifies as a woman has been jailed for 10 years after pleading guilty to using social media to groom children for sexual abuse.
Richard Fenton, who identifies as ‘Rachel,’ has been sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty to 21 total child sex offenses, including seven counts of attempting to incite a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity. Fenton was also charged on a drug offense.
According to Manchester Evening News, Fenton was originally reported to police in November of 2021 after an anti-predator vigilante group informed law enforcement the had been communicating with a fake social media profile they had established in the likeness of a 12-year-old girl.
Not knowing who was behind the profile and believing it to be a child, Fenton attempted to incite the ‘girl’ into sexual activity, and sent the profile perverted images.
Fenton also tried to encourage the ‘girl’ to engage in sexual activity with a six-year-old. Police soon after arrested him at an address in Wythenshawe on suspicion of attempting to sexually abuse a child, also charging him with marijuana possession.
The 45-year-old man was then released on bail, where be quickly began communicating with yet another fake profile, this one established by law enforcement. The profile was one he believed to belong to a 12-year-old girl, and Fenton sent the account indecent images and encouraged the fake child to engage in sexual activity. Fenton also contacted a third fake profile and engaged in similar behavior.
Fenton was re-arrested in January of 2021 on a total of 21 offenses, to which he pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court on Monday. Fenton was also issued a sexual harm prevention order, and made to register as a sex offender.
According to sentencing information, Fenton is listed as a male under his birth name and the court records utilized masculine pronouns for him, which indicates he does not have a gender recognition certificate (GRC). Despite this, many media outlets opted to validate Fenton’s identity, calling him “Rachel,” and utilizing gender-neutral language to address him.
The lack of ‘affirming’ information within court records also suggests Fenton would not be sent to a female prison immediately.
Speaking to Reduxx on the case, Dr. Kate Coleman, Director of Keep Prisons Single Sex, says the primary concern is if Fenton chooses to apply for a GRC and cement his transgender identity in law.
“[GRCs] have successfully been obtained by prisoners serving sentences for the most serious violent and sexual offenses against women and children,” Dr. Coleman says, “We know that offending history and risk are not taken into consideration by the Gender Recognition Panel when making the decision to grant a gender recognition certificate.”
Keep Prisons Single Sex is a campaign group focused on advocating for the single-sex rights of vulnerable female inmates. It currently has branches in the United Kingdom and United States.
Dr. Coleman notes that male inmates serving long sentences may be motivated to begin to fulfill the requires for a GRC and apply.
“What else is there to do?” She asks, pointing out that a GRC would be beneficial if the offender is habitual and knows they are likely to wind up in prison again.
“Whilst under 1% non-GRC holders are in the female [prison] estate, 90% of those with a GRC are in women’s prisons. These include those convicted of the most serious violent and sexual offences and those with intact male genitalia,” Dr. Coleman says, continuing: “A GRC isn’t a cast iron guarantee of getting into a women’s prison, but it increases your chances by an order of magnitude.”
On Fenton, Dr. Coleman says a GRC would possibly be of particular advantage.
“A GRC would confer an additional advantage for this prisoner, which is that he will then be risk assessed only using the risk assessment tools for female offenders. This is significant because he has been convicted of a sexual offense – a GRC would mean that the risk assessment tool designed for use with adult male sexual offenders can never be used with him again.”
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