My best pal's creepy stepdad groomed and sexually abused me aged 14

A MUM has revealed her torment at being groomed and sexually abused her by her best friend's stepdad when she was just 14.

Leigha Cummins was forced to move in with John Gow, 36, and his family when her dad was called away for work.


But the fiend soon began grooming the vulnerable teen as he began a horrific campaign of abuse against her.

Gow even called Leigha his "girlfriend" as he sexually abused her at his home in Swanley, Kent, and would claim he was in love with her.

Leigha, now 22, has bravely waived her anonymity after Gow was released from prison after being sentenced to three years and four months.

The bartender said: "The older I get, the more I understand how sick it was what John did.

“I live with what he did to me everyday, while he’s free to roam the streets.”

Leigha's nightmare ordeal began in 2012 when her dad had to start a new job and wasn't able to take the schoolgirl with him.

With her mum not in the picture, her best friend's parents offered to look after Leigha and she moved in days later.

She said: “I told them all how thankful I was for them letting me stay and the step dad, John, said I was a part of the family now.

“He seemed really kind and welcoming.”

Leigha initially settled into her new home and enjoyed family dinners every night.

But her new life soon turned sinister when she noticed Gow staring at her every night.


She said she dismissed how "weird" she found his gaze and figured she was just being paranoid as Gow was 13 years older than her.

But in January 2013, Leigha was injured after a group of thugs stamped on her at school – meaning she needed to go on bed rest.

Leigha said: "While my friend went to school and her mum was at work, John kindly offered to look after me.

“The first day, he brought me breakfast in bed and asked how I was feeling.

“Suddenly, out of nowhere, he kissed me.

“I froze.

“John then told me he fancied me.

“Mortified, I stayed silent and he eventually left the room.

“When everyone came home, I didn’t say a word as I was too embarrassed. I also didn’t want to upset anyone as I was a guest in their house.”

Just days later, Gow confessed his love for Leigha before kissing her again and telling her it could remain their secret.

She said: "Weirdly, I liked the attention because no one had ever liked me before.”

After that, Gow went to Leigha’s room every morning after his step-daughter left for school.

Leigha said: “John seemed caring and I felt like I could confide in him.

“I said how kids at school had bullied me about my weight and John reassured me that I was beautiful.

“For the first time, I felt special."

Gow soon began groping Leigha when no one was looking leave the terrified teen feeling "ashamed".

In September that year, Leigha moved in with her nan after discovering the family could no longer look after her.

Although she was "relieved" the fiend could no longer prey on her, Gow began bombarding her with texts and phonecalls saying how much he missed her.

She eventually agreed to meet with Gow on a shopping trip but he took Leigha to the pub and introduced the teen as his girlfriend.

Leigha says Gow would discuss them running away together when she was 18 – leaving her feeling "trapped".

His campaign of abuse became more sickening a month later when she met Gow at his home after telling her nan she was seeing a pal.

She said: “That night, John pulled down my trousers and fondled me.

“He made me touch him too.

“The next morning I had dozens of missed calls from my nan and school friends.”

When Leigha returned home, the police were there.

She said: “Nan had somehow figured out I was with John.

“I denied everything to the police but after months of them trying to persuade me to report John, I finally realised I’d been groomed.

“I plucked up the courage to finally report him.”

In July 2015, Gow pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child under 16 years at Maidstone Crown Court.

He was jailed for three years and four months.

Leigha said: “It wasn’t long enough.

“When he was released early from prison, two years and fours months later, I was devastated.

“Now, I’m constantly living in fear that I’ll see him again.

“But I’m trying to get on with my life as best I can with my new husband, son and daughter.

“If you’ve been a victim of grooming, please speak out. You will be believed.”

 

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