Teacher Groomed 13-Year-Old Girl Through the Internet, Raped Her

This case is appalling on multiple levels. In the UK, 24-year-old man — a man who worked as a teacher — groomed a 13-year-old girl through the internet using a 15-year-old female alter ego, and then met her in person and raped her.

After Matthew Knott raped her, the girl reported the attack, and he has since been convicted on charges of grooming a child for sex on the internet and having sexual activity with a child (read: rape, because consensual sex with a child is impossible). I see no real reason to reproduce the details of the grooming and assault here; you can click through to read about the ways in which Knott manipulated the girl, and how he assaulted her not only through a lack of meaningful consent due to her age (more than enough), but also by obtaining her compliance through ordering her around in a threatening manner. He was sentenced to four years in prison, and is barred from working with children for five years.

Again, there are multiple levels of outrage here. There’s the fact that Knott committed this assault in the first place. Then there’s the fact that he did so as a teacher, someone who is entrusted with the well-being of children and adolescents every day, even if his victim was not one of his students. Further, there’s his mere sentence of four years in prison, which seems a bit short to me, though I suppose that it is in fact much longer than most rapists ever receive. And there’s the sickening knowledge that he will be able to legally work with children again in five years — I assume that means one year after his release? — even though he has raped a 13-year-old, and the school at which he taught at the time of the rape is for students age 11 through 16. One can only hope that no one would be so foolish as to hire him for a position that involves working with children, and certainly not for a teaching job.

Oh, wait, and then there’s this comment from the judge:

Judge Michael Henshaw told him: “It is perfectly clear to anybody here and those reading about these offences to see these were carefully planned calculated offences carried out in a devious way to enable you to meet this child for the purpose of having sex with her.

“The type of activity you engaged in is of enormous public concern.

“Parents throughout this country are no doubt worried sick what their offspring might be doing when they are using the computer.

“There are people like you who adopt identities to encourage children to commit offences.”

Yes, yes, mhm, agreed … what?

I keep trying to read that line another way. Maybe he meant “there are people like you who adopt identities in order to commit offenses through encouraging children”? Maybe, but that’s not what he says. Either way you read it, no matter how generously, the judge here frames grooming a child for sexual assault as “encouragement,” when in fact those two things are worlds apart. That is a big problem. And the way I’m reading it, he also frames the child who has been raped as having committed an offense.

No. No, no, no. Pretending to be a teenager and then telling an actual teen that they ought to go egg someone’s house is adopting an identity to encourage children to commit offenses. Pretending to be a teenager in order to obtain explicit photographs of an actual teen, and then to get her to meet you in order to rape her, is not encouraging children to commit offenses. It is victimizing a child, it is committing an offense, and the suggestion that the child has somehow been corrupted or merely been subject to a bad influence by someone who ought to know better is frankly disgusting.

Treating the rape of a child as just “having sex” that general society finds icky is a huge and pervasive problem. Pretending that grooming children is the same as seduction is a similar problem. And acting as though teenage sex is something just as fearsome, just as valid for parents to be concerned about as an adult raping a teenager, is something that regularly keeps victims marginalized and blaming themselves, and something which only encourages rapists — those like Matthew Knott.

0 thoughts on “Teacher Groomed 13-Year-Old Girl Through the Internet, Raped Her

  1. Angel H.

    It’s thinking like that of the judge’s that turn people like Roman Polanski into a martyr of the justice system!

    It pisses me off so much that this has to be said over and over and over and over…What is wrong with people?!!

    Reply
  2. CableGirl

    I wish people would just come out and say it. It’s RAPE. The refusal by authority figures and media to call a spade a spade is infuriating. I can’t even count the number of times in the past week I’ve read comments about the Samantha Gailey case that claimed it wasn’t “rape rape”, whatever that means.

    Ugh. Just ugh.

    Reply
  3. Feminist Avatar

    It’s extremely odd that he wasn’t put on the sex offender’s register [maybe he was and it just isn’t reported], which would bar him from ever working with children (and for that matter a range of other jobs including driving taxis). In the UK, however, to work with children you have to be registered with various professional bodies and his criminal offence will bar him from registering with them- this hopefully will safeguard children.

    Reply
  4. Lindsay

    I am flabbergasted that Matthew Knott was not barred from interacting with children for life, or at least a longer period than five measly years. I wonder if Knott’s sentence would be the same, if said incident had occurred with a 13 year-old boy.

    Reply
  5. milgram

    He must have been put on the Sex Offenders Register, though it’s odd that this isn’t mentioned in the Times story. Maybe it goes without saying now, and instead they only think it’s worth mentioning:
    “banned for five years from having internet access except in a public library”

    Either way, he won’t be passing a Disclosure check anytime soon and not working with kids again.

    Reply
  6. Cara Post author

    Yeah, I hope he’s on the list, but it explicitly says:

    Knott, of Miles Platting, Manchester, was barred from working with children for five years after admitting grooming a child for sex on the internet and having sexual activity with a child.

    If he’s on the list, and if he’s barred with working with children for life, what is the five years thing?

    Reply
  7. Eghead

    I’m really, legitimately shocked. I thought that, at the very least, we’ve progressed far enough as a society to all agree that raping children is bad. But between this and Polanski… I seriously think the world is losing it’s fucking mind. Or I’ve lost mind by never noticing this before?

    Reply
  8. Lemur

    This is fucked up. Just say it already! It’s rape it’s rape it’s RAPE, dammit!
    OT, CableGirl, while I agree with your statements totally, I just wanted to note that “calling a spade a spade” has racist roots. “spade” was/is a racial slur against black people. It’s not just a gardening tool. Thought I should speak up and let you know.

    Reply
  9. Kristen

    I’m not sure the sex offender registry works the same in the UK as it does in the US. For one thing the list is not publicly available, so the manager of local pizza joint can’t just type in prospective employees names and figure out if they’re registered. Also, there is a movement to end lifetime registration in UK, which means he may not be registered forever. So while he may never get another job teaching again because of the background checks, the same may not be set for civilian jobs. I believe the additional court order makes sure that he can’t work in a toy store, a youth center, a video arcade, or even myspace.

    Reply
  10. Recorta

    The progress of this trial and the punishments as reported both seem very strange and upsetting to me.

    The word “rape” is clearly appropriate, not least because it’s objectively, 100%, rape in the statutory sense! Why it’s being tip-toed around is sort of beyond me…

    Reply
  11. Recorta

    Sorry, I can’t edit my prior comment, but on the OT remark of Lemur, I believe that it’s a misunderstanding to say that the idiom stemmed from racist sentiment. It may have come to be understood as potentially racist and offensive, and therefore deserves to be treated with caution, but its derivation actually has nothing to do with that particular use of the noun “spade”.

    Reply
  12. Brian

    The choice of language might reflect British legal codes; Rape isn’t explicitly named as a crime in Canada, for instance, just differing degrees of sexual assault. (This was done, more or less, to reset the crime against problematic precedents that had arisen over the years)

    Reply
  13. sarah

    Hopefully this will be an instance that changes the laws and perspectives of the People and who they put in power. That judge needs to be dismissed. That is a realistic option for this situation. And then a reopenning of the case to do a more honorable justice.

    Reply

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