We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage to improve and customise your experience, where applicable. View our Cookies Policy. Click Accept and continue to use our website or Manage to review and update your preferences.

Ex-inmate gives account of sex assault by trans prisoner

18 Jan 2022 / justice Print

Female inmate tells of sex assault by trans prisoner

A former female prisoner in Britain has given a graphic account of how she was assaulted by a trans inmate at ­­­HMP New Hall in West Yorkshire, which houses 360 women.

Cheryle Kempton (45) told the Mail on Sunday (MoS) that sex predator Karen White molested four other inmates during a three-month reign of terror in the women’s prison in late 2017. 

Female estate

White was sent to the female prison estate on the basis of self-identification as a woman, despite having had neither surgery nor hormone treatment.

Convicted paedophile White was imprisoned on remand for grievous bodily harm and multiple rapes and other sexual offences against women.

Waiving her anonymity, Kempton spoke to the newspaper in the hope of preventing other women facing a similar fate.

“This must never be allowed to happen again. Whatever people have done, prison should be a safe space,” Cheryle Kempton told the MoS (16 January).


She told the reporter that she believes that White – born Stephen Wood – faked being transgender for the sole purpose of preying on vulnerable women and took advantage of laws which allow men who identify as women to serve time at female prisons.

“She would get special privileges to buy make-up on certain sites like Asos and she was allowed to use the internet to buy her wigs,” said Cheryle.

“We were never allowed to do that, so why was she?” she asked.

Decisions on where to place inmates such as White are initially taken by a local transgender case board made up of prison managers and psychologists.

In this case, White's previous crimes were not taken into account, the MoS reported.

None of the female prisoners were warned that six-foot tall White was a man identifying as a woman, and Kempton described uproar among inmates as word spread.

Kempton, who was jailed for offences resulting from drug addiction, describes the shock on the wing at the size, height and deep voice of the new inmate.

Formal complaint

After the sexual assault, Kempton says she was asked by a prison officer to make a formal complaint about White, but to her regret she declined.

Following a further assault, White was moved to HMP Armley, an all-male prison in Leeds, while police investigated.

Soon afterwards, Kempton discovered that White had sexually assaulted another inmate, and decided to make a formal complaint. 

We felt they had protected Karen over us,” Kempton told the newspaper.

“All women in prison are vulnerable.

“All her conversations were about sex,” recalled Cheryle.

“I felt vulnerable and uncomfortable in her presence. And we all felt like that, even the toughest of us.

“She had a manly body. It’s just human nature that men are stronger than us. And we all knew Karen was stronger than us. If she got hold of us, she would overpower us.”

She said: “Karen White faked being transgender to abuse women, and the authorities enabled her to assault and prey on us.”

Kempton's statements formed part of the Crown Prosecution Service's case against White, which saw the inmate admit two sexual assaults on female prisoners, at Leeds Crown Court in October 2018.


The Ministry of Justice apologised for moving White to New Hall, saying that previous offending history had not been taken into account.

White, from Manchester, is now serving a life sentence in HMP Wakefield, which houses 750 of Britain's most dangerous men.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland