The prison service has apologised after a transgender inmate, charged with raping a woman, sexually assaulted four fellow inmates just days after being remanded into an all female jail.
Convicted paedophile Karen White, who was born Stephen Wood, was undergoing gender reassignment, but had not undergone full surgery, when she was accused of repeatedly raping a woman in 2016. The 52-year-old, who had been previously been jailed in 2001 for a sex attack on a child, told the authorities she identified as a woman and was remanded into HMP New Hall near Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
But within days of arriving at the women-only prison in September last year, White made a sexual advance to another inmate, while in an aroused state. A fortnight later, White approached another female inmate and struck up a conversation in which she made comments about oral sex.
She then took hold of the woman’s hand and forced it onto her left breast in order to feel her padded bra. Just days later she was accused of pushing her hips and penis against another prisoner and in November last year she allegedly kissed a female inmate on the neck.
She was transferred into HMP Armley, an all-male prison in Leeds, when the inmates came forward to report the attacks.
Under the current rules a prisoner must be placed into a jail in accordance with their legally recognised gender.
If an inmate identifies as their non-legally recognised gender, a local Transgender Case Board will meet to assess, but must take account of the previous offending history. However, that did not take place in this case.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “We apologise sincerely for the mistakes which were made in this case. “While we work to manage all prisoners, including those who are transgender, sensitively and in line with the law, we are clear that the safety of all prisoners must be our absolute priority.”
Appearing at Leeds Crown Court last month, White pleaded guilty to two counts of rape in relation to the 2016 attack and also admitted indecently assaulting two New Hall prisoners.
She denied two of the prison assaults and the cases were ordered to lay on file. Details of the offences can only be revealed for the first time today, after White appeared in court to admit an historic rape dating back to 2003.
With her auburn hair tied up in a ponytail and wearing a grey jumper, White appeared in the dock, supported by a walking stick.
Adjourning sentencing until October 11, Judge Christopher Batty said he wanted to assess reports on the danger that White posed. White had been living under the name David Thompson before she began identifying as a woman and began transitioning.
She had been living as a woman when she carried out the 2016 rape, the court heard. After initially being charged with the prison sex attacks, White had told the court she could not be guilty because she was not attracted to women and also suffered from erectile dysfunction.
But at a previous hearing, prosecutor, Charlotte Dangerfield told Leeds Magistrates’ Court that she had carried out the first offence within days of arriving at the prison.
The prosecutor said White had struck up a relationship with a fellow inmate which had quickly become inappropriate. She explained: “The defendant would stand very close to her, touch her arm and wink at her. Her penis was erect and sticking out of the top of her trousers.”
On September 26 last year White approached another inmate. Miss Dangerfield said: “She made inappropriate comments about oral sex, which made the complainant feel sick.
“She took hold of the complainant’s hand and put it on the defendant’s left breast – she could feel her padded bra.”
On a third occasion on 5 October White again made inappropriate comments about oral sex to another prisoner. “She gave her a bear hug and the defendant pushed her hips towards her with such force that the complainant could feel his penis,” said Miss Dangerfield.
Leeds Magistrates’ Court also heard that White had been convicted in 2001 for two offences of indecent assault and gross indecency with a child for which he was jailed for 18 months.
The latest figures suggested there are 125 transgender prisoners in jails in England and Wales.
Dr Nicola Williams, spokeswoman for Fair Play for Women, which campaigns to preserve women’s spaces, added: “This just shows that the risk assessments that prisons do are not good enough, because it’s allowed a rapist, with a penis, into a women’s prison. And women have been sexually assaulted. It is absolutely outrageous.
“We have to change the prison guidance now. There should be no fully intact male-bodied prisoners, ever, in women’s prisons.”
Sarah Ditum, a feminist campaigner said: “This is exactly what feminists have been warning about in the redefinition of sex and gender identity, is the possibility that people such as Karen White, who’ve got a clear sexual motive for wanting to be put into women’s intimate spaces, are going to take advantage of it. It’s appalling that something like this has been allowed to happen.”
How about instead of apologising you STOP PUTTING FUCKING MEN IN WOMEN’S PRISONS!!!!!!!!!
How many more women need to get sexually assaulted before people realize a person with a penis (aka MEN) have no business being in female spaces where women are most vulnerable?
How long before people realize this “identity” bullshit is just neo violent misogyny?
Sadly, it won’t be the continued sexual assault of women and girls that will wake people up – it will be more assaults of male children, much like what happened with the Catholic church.