Transgender prison inmate who sexually assaulted women jailed for life

A transgender prisoner who admitted sexually assaulting two women while on remand has been jailed for life.

Karen White, who was born male but now identifies as a woman and is transitioning, also admitted the previous rapes of two other women.

She already had convictions for indecent assault, indecent exposure and gross indecency involving children, violence and dishonesty.

The judge at Leeds Crown Court described her as a "highly manipulative predator", while the prosecution said she used her transgender persona to "put herself in contact with vulnerable persons she can then abuse".

It is believed she will serve her sentence at a male prison.

Between September and October last year, White attacked two inmates at a women's prison - HMP New Hall - while on remand for other offences.

While there, she began her gender re-alignment, wearing a wig, make-up and false breasts.

After becoming friendly with another inmate, she pressed her erect penis against the woman's back while in a queue to receive medication.

After the incident was reported to police, another prison assault came to light.

White had grabbed another woman's hand in the prison workshop and put it on her left breast, saying: "Oh look, they are not real ones."

Also while in prison, White wrote to a woman she had raped - an offence not reported to police at the time. Police began to investigate after the woman complained to prison authorities.

The victim, in her 20s, told officers that White had raped her violently five or six times between January and December 2016.

The woman said in an impact statement that she had tried to take her own life and was concerned she may not be able to have children because the rapes had caused "internal damage".

Christopher Dunn, prosecuting, said White had left her "vulnerable, demotivated, demoralised and terrorised".

The final attack happened in August 2003, again coming to police attention after White was arrested last year.

White, then known as Stephen Wood and living in Manchester, had offered to help decorate a flat belonging to the wife of a friend, who was two months pregnant.

The court heard that while White was there, he secretly spiked the woman's drink with vodka until she passed out.

"The complainant woke up and felt the defendant on top of her... having sex with her," Mr Dunn said.

Despite being arrested at the time, White was not prosecuted and the court was not told why.

The victim said in a statement to the court that her husband had not believed her, and she too had tried to take her own life.

"I have no relationships with anyone," she said.

"I felt very dirty as a woman. I became very depressed. Even now 15 years on I still struggle with mental health and suffer horrendous flashbacks. Until 15 years ago I was a strong woman."

Judge Christopher Batty told White she was a "predator and highly manipulative and in my view you are a danger".

He added: "You represent a significant risk of serious harm to children, to women and to the general public."

Mr Dunn said White was "allegedly a transgender female", adding: "The prosecution say allegedly because there's smatterings of evidence in this case that the defendant's approach to transitioning has been less than committed.

"The prosecution suggest the reason for the lack of commitment towards transitioning is so the defendant can use a transgender persona to put herself in contact with vulnerable persons she can then abuse."

Detective Inspector David Rogerson, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "We welcome White's guilty pleas to these offences, which have spared the victims the ordeal of a trial.

"We are pleased to see White appropriately sentenced by the courts for what are very serious offences."

She must serve a minimum of nine-and-a-half years before being considered for parole.