Keighley victim’s 10-year torment by sexual deviant

First published in Keighley

A Keighley woman harassed by a sexual deviant for a decade has spoken out after he was jailed.

Michael Atherton was last Friday found guilty of sex offences against women and children he targeted on the internet. He was locked up for seven years.

Some of his other victims were also from Keighley.

Former Keighley man Atherton, 42, now of Westbourne Grove, Scarborough, contacted his victims on Facebook and by e-mail, using false profiles to gain their trust before exposing himself to them.

The Keighley woman, whose identity we are protecting, said she was glad she decided to report him after being harassed for 10 years.

She said: “I identified Michael Atherton, which assisted the police in linking him to other victims. I believe one of the victims was as young as eight.

“I am pleased the investigation is now over and a good sentence was given.

“Michael Atherton started harassing me from the age of 14 and did not stop for 10 years. He is a pest that never went away and I am glad that I will finally be left alone.”

The youngest of Atherton’s victims was an eight-year-old girl from North Lincolnshire whose mother witnessed the offence.

There were other victims from Keighley, as well as some from Scarborough and one from Skipton.

Atherton, who also uses the surname Alderton, was found guilty of 17 offences when he appeared at York Crown Court, including exposure, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, and breach of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Detective Constable Michelle Neighbour, of Scarborough Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit, said: “Michael Atherton persistently engaged in sexual acts using various internet applications.

“He harassed his victims to satisfy his own sexual gratification. He befriended children and women on Facebook by using false profiles and then contacted them via Facetime and exposed himself.

“Michael Atherton is a sexual deviant who will now have a number of years in prison to reflect on his behaviour."

 

DC Neighbour added that Atherton’s behaviour highlights the importance of not accepting friend requests via the internet from unknown people.

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