London - A transgender prisoner charged with raping a woman was remanded to a female prison where she indecently assaulted four inmates, a court heard.
Karen White, 52, was sent to the jail despite the fact that she was a convicted sex offender and paedophile.
All her previous offences had been committed when she was a man – and White had not had gender reassignment surgery when she went to women-only New Hall Prison near Wakefield, West Yorkshire, where the sex assaults took place.
The case could lead to a review of the rules for dealing with transgender inmates in the prison system.
On Thursday White pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court to the historic rape of a woman in August 2003, when she was then called Stephen Wood.
Last month she also pleaded guilty at the same court to two counts of raping another woman between February and December 2016. It was for these rape offences that White was remanded in custody to New Hall Prison.
And while locked up there she took advantage of living alongside women inmates to carry out further sex attacks. White admitted sex assaults on two inmates and denied sexually assaulting two others. All the incidents took place between September and November last year.
She was transferred to HM Prison Leeds, a category B men’s prison, after the jail attacks. The sex assault offences she denied have been left to lie on file, as have a further rape allegation against the 2016 victim and a charge of controlling behaviour against her.
White had been living as a man called David Thompson before she began to identify as a woman.
She became Karen White and lived near Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire. She was in transition when she committed the latest rape.
White is also awaiting sentence for stabbing a neighbour. On Thursday she appeared in the dock with her auburn hair in a ponytail, wearing glasses and walking with a stick.
Judge Christopher Batty adjourned sentencing until October 11 for the preparation of reports and to obtain victim personal statements. ‘I’m going to have you assessed to see whether you are a danger,’ he told her.
When White appeared before a district judge at Leeds Magistrates’ Court in July, she claimed she had not sexually assaulted the female inmates because she is not attracted to women and suffers from erectile dysfunction.
Prosecutor Charlotte Dangerfield told the court the first assault in September happened when White stood close to another inmate, touched her arm and exposed herself.
For the second assault she made ‘inappropriate comments about oral sex’ and put the woman’s hand on the ‘defendant’s left breast’ so she could feel her padded bra.
Miss Dangerfield said the third alleged assault involved White pushing herself indecently against another prisoner, and on the fourth incident she allegedly kissed an inmate on the neck.
The court heard White was convicted in 2001 for two offences of indecent assault and gross indecency with a child and was jailed for 18 months. The latest figures showed there were 125 transgender prisoners in England and Wales up to the end of March 2017, an increase from 70 a year earlier.
About 25 are thought to be in women’s jails.
At least 34 male-born inmates are living as women in four specialist sex offender jails for men, according to Freedom of Information Act requests. But prison governors say many have sought to be transferred to women’s jails.
A spokesman for the Prison Service said: ‘We apologise sincerely for the mistakes which were made in this case.
‘While we work to manage all prisoners, including those who are transgender, sensitively and in line with the law, we are clear that the safety of all prisoners must be our absolute priority.’
Rapist released on bail 7 times attacked woman in her home
A judge has criticised police and magistrates for repeatedly releasing a serial rapist to attack more women.
Sexual predator Carl Hartley, 26, was freed on bail seven times in three years as he targeted lone women at night.
Just three days after magistrates freed him on bail for the final time, Hartley – who had already allegedly raped four women – sexually assaulted a mother in her home in front of her three-year-old child.
Yesterday the sex attacker was jailed for life at Leeds Crown Court by a judge who expressed his astonishment at the failure by the authorities to lock him up.
Hartley was arrested after each of the four alleged rapes but released without charge on every occasion. One of the brutal attacks was recorded in colour by a CCTV camera.
The harrowing footage – played in court yesterday – was viewed by police at the time but Hartley wasn’t charged until almost three years later.
Judge Christopher Batty said: ‘How he was not charged is beyond me. How he was not remanded in custody is beyond me.’
The judge told Hartley: ‘You are a sexual predator and a highly dangerous man.’
Father-of-two Hartley, of Leeds, admitted the first two rapes and the sex assault. The other two rapes were left to lie on the file.
A senior police officer involved in the inquiry described Hartley as ‘without doubt one of the most dangerous sexual predators I have ever encountered’.
In June 2017, Hartley breached his bail conditions and was hauled before magistrates – but they released him on bail for a seventh time. Three days later, he raped the young mother in her home.
He was given a life sentence with a minimum term of six years and 117 days.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingsman, of West Yorkshire Police, said: ‘It is clearly regrettable that he was on the streets for so long and we wish to express our sympathy to the victims.’