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Damages awarded for first time in 'sexting' case

Published 30/11/2015

William Whillock has been sued for damages in a sexting case
William Whillock has been sued for damages in a sexting case

Damages for so-called "sexting" have been awarded for the first time, in a case involving the ex-vice-principal of Diana, Princess of Wales's former school.

William Whillock, , former vice-principal of The New School in West Heath near Sevenoaks, Kent, was handed a three-year community order in 2010 after admitting possessing indecent images of a female teenage pupil who he encouraged to send sexually-charged pictures.

Now it has emerged that the victim, who cannot be named, has sued for the harm done, resulting in a judge awarding damages, the BBC reported.

The legal precedent means that anyone manipulated into sending or receiving a sexually-explicit message or image, and suffers psychological harm as a result, can now bring a compensation claim.

The NSPCC warned the awarding of damages could be misused. It 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.

"It can leave them exposed to potential harm or embarrassment and they may well end up seriously regretting their actions."

Whillock, then aged 57, was arrested in January 2010 and suspended from his role as vice-principal at The New School in West Heath, near Sevenoaks, Kent.

A number of sexual photographs of the girl were found on her phone, and the images had been sent to Whillock, who was a co-founder of the school and also its child protection officer.

The victim, now 23, told the BBC the harm done by "father figure" Whillock was serious and long-lasting, adding: "It affects my relationships. I felt forced into it.

"Whenever I have a relationship it's always stuck in my head. I feel like they're going to abuse me again."

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