Damages for “sexting” have been awarded for the first time.
A woman who was pressured to ‘sext’ pictures of herself as a teenager to a teacher has won £25,000 worth of damages for the harm caused by the text messages and images alone- in a landmark legal case.
The victim – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was a pupil at The New School in Kent, the former school of Princess Diana. She was encouraged to send explicit pictures by the vice principal, William Whillock.
Whillock was sentenced to a three-year community order in 2010 after admitting possessing indecent images of the child. Since then, the woman has sued for the damage done, resulting in a judge awarding damages, the BBC reported.
It means anyone manipulated into sending or receiving a sexually-explicit message or image, and who suffers psychological harm as a result, can now bring a claim for compensation.
Speaking to the BBC, the victim, now 23, said how she developed a friendship with a teacher at the independent special needs school in Sevenoaks, Kent.
He was like a father figure to me. He always said that if there were any problems, ‘Just give me a call.’ When I was at school I used to go to his office and talk to him about problems at home. As the relationship built up, things just got worse.
Since the incident, she added that it had effected her relationships and is terrified that potential partners are going to abuse her again.
Speaking about the case, the NSPCC said awards of damages were important but risked being misused.
A spokesperson said:
It’s vital that there are serious punishments that deter offenders from committing these crimes against young people. However, whilst damages could help discourage potential abusers, there is a danger young people could just use this as a way to get cash by suing one another. It’s important for victims to get justice. But it’s equally important to educate children about not sharing this kind of explicit material.
This could set a precedent for young people for years to come.