A teenager who named victims of her brother’s sexual abuse on Facebook has been jailed in a landmark case.
Sophie Turner, 19, broke the law by identifying two girls protected by lifetime anonymity in hate-filled posts.
She was sentenced to 18 weeks’ imprisonment in a young offenders’ institution after being convicted for two counts of publishing the names of victims of a sexual offence and two counts of harassment.
Liverpool Magistrates Court heard that Turner, of Old Swan, posted the victims’ names on the Facebook page of the Liverpool Echo and wrote further posts when the first was deleted.
The attorney general gave permission for the prosecution to be brought, with a judge warning that laws drawn up for newspapers were being violated on social media.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office said: “Publishing the names of sexual assault complainants is against the law in England and Wales. Whether it is in print or online, anyone doing so can face prosecution.”
Turner’s brother Jamie, 26, of Davidson Road in Old Swan and friend Myles Bell, 23, of Makin Street in Walton, had plied two girls aged 14 and 16 with drink and drugs and abused them, sometimes filming sexual acts and threatening to release the footage if they did not comply with their demands.
“They used me in the most horrible and sickening way,” said one of the victims at the time. “The sexual abuse I went through was disgusting. I am still scared in case videos of the sexual abuse that Jamie and Myles filmed turns up.”
Turner’s brother and Bell were jailed for 12 years each after being convicted of sexual activity with a child and inciting a child into sexual activity.
Following their sentencing in July, Sophie wrote Facebook posts insulting her brother’s victims and accusing them of lying to gain compensation.
Pascale Jones, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said she showed a “callous disregard” for the lifetime anonymity automatically provided to all victims of sexual offences.
“That right allows them to report offences to the police without fearing for their reputation or for the invasion of their privacy,” she added.
“After she was charged she used her Facebook account again to make further derogatory comments about the victims.
“She said her account had been misused by someone else but was found guilty at trial.”
Detective Inspector Jacky Fitzpatrick, of Merseyside Police, said the naming of sex assault victims “will not be tolerated under any circumstances”.
“The naming of victims in cases such as this causes huge distress to that victim, who will have already endured a terrible experience at the hands of their attacker,” she added.
“But it also seriously risks damaging the confidence other victims might have to come forward and report what has happened to them.
“I hope that today’s result gives some comfort to the victims in this case, and reassures any potential victims that Merseyside Police and the courts look very seriously upon anyone who breaks the law in this way, and will use the full force of the law to ensure their anonymity is protected for life.”