A former Staffordshire police officer who corrupted and groomed a “vulnerable” young girl by sending thousands of sexually explicit messages on Facebook and MSN has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.
Andrew Rowe knew the victim because he had previously investigated allegations that she had been sexually abused by someone else.
In passing sentence, Judge Sean Morris said: “This case is made all the more serious by its background. Not only were you a police officer, you were a child protection officer.
"Not only that, you were the officer investigating her complaint of sexual assault when she was 12. You had interviewed her and you knew the traumatic effect that that allegation had had upon her family.
"You became friends with the family and you went on to abuse their trust in a gross and abhorrent way.
"The family has been abused. They are entitled to look to the police as the upholders of the law and all that is right in society.
"You have abused the police force. Their good name has been brought low by your actions.”
Rowe, 31, of Ashwood, Stoke-on-Trent, who had previously admitted two charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, causing a child to look at an image of a person engaged in sexual activity, meeting a child following sexual grooming and sexual activity with a child, was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
John Attwood, prosecuting at Birmingham Crown Court, said at the time of the offences Rowe was a serving police officer with the Staffordshire force and that, in 2006, he had investigated allegations of sexual assault against the victim.
However, the person alleged to have carried out the offences died before the case could be concluded.
About a year later Rowe met the girl’s father by accident in a supermarket and took the opportunity to renew the relationship he had had previously with the family.
He said the victim’s family placed great trust in him because of who he was and went on: “Having ingratiated himself with the family in this way he used this position of trust to groom her.”
Mr Attwod said this had involved the officer sending a series of sexually explicit messages to the girl in a variety of ways including through Facebook and the messaging service MSN.
He said matters came to a head in April this year when he invited the girl and her boyfriend back to his home and he had stroked her hair while she was lying on a sofa.
Mr Attwood said the boyfriend later saw an explicit message Rowe sent to her and when he confronted her about this she confessed to him about what had been going on.
He said that Rowe had taken steps to try and cover his tracks and that police investigating the matter found he had deactivated his Facebook account and removed the hard drive from his computer.
In the two weeks before his arrest Rowe had communicated with the girl, now aged 15, 280 times which had the appearance of “compulsive behaviour.” said Mr Attwood.
He said Rowe’s actions had had a profound effect on the victim, who had taken an overdose from which she recovered.
Adrian Keeling, defending, said the actual sexual contact had been very limited and there had been no threats or coercion.