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Dance teacher who ‘bombarded’ boy, 13, with sexual Whatsapp messages after he asked her to stop is spared jail

Jennifer Hesse, 48, developed ‘warped feelings’ for the boy at her private dance class

Aisha Rimi
Tuesday 05 April 2022 19:02 BST
Bournemouth Crown Court, Dorset, where Jennifer Hesse was found guilty
Bournemouth Crown Court, Dorset, where Jennifer Hesse was found guilty (PA )

A married dance teacher who “bombarded” a 13-year-old boy with sexual messages has been spared jail.

Mother-of-two Jennifer Hesse, 48, developed warped feelings for the boy at her private dance class in Bournemouth, Dorset, a court was told.

Abusing her position of trust, she sent him “intense” sexual WhatsApp messages and encouraged him to be “touchy” around her to fulfil her own sexual gratification, Bournemouth Crown Court heard.

In one message she wrote: “I need you to be touchy all the time.”

In another, she said she felt “an odd combination of dizziness and calm” and that she “could not breathe” when he was with her. She also repeatedly told him that she loved him.

Hesse warned the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to delete her messages so that his parents would not find out.

When the victim told Hesse that he had a girlfriend, she responded: “You are 13 and do not have the capacity for that yet…I want you to be able to love me exactly the way I need.”

The boy’s mother later discovered the messages and reported them to the police.

Hesse has now been found guilty of sexual communication with a child to gain sexual gratification and was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.

She also has to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and has been placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years. Additionally, Hesse was given a restraining order and a sexual harm prevention order, forbidding her from contacting boys under 16 without the consent of their parents for five years.

Nicola Talbot-Hadley, prosecuting, said: “The victim gave evidence in which he rejected that he had a crush on Mrs Hesse and the jury also rejected this version of events.

“The jury were given a great deal of messages between them. It was extremely intense and emotionally pressurising. It often took place late at night and the defendant was under the influence of alcohol some of the time.

“The messages were sexualised and there was reference to ‘touch and tease’. She repeatedly told him she loved him.

“This was an abuse of trust. It became his ‘new normal’ that he had to deal with such intense and pressurised messages. They left him stressed out and embarrassed.

“It is clear that he did not want to go to the dance school through fear of meeting Mrs Hesse.”

In a letter she gave to the judge, Hesse said that she had “trouble understanding boundaries”.

Addressing her victim’s family in court, she said she had overstepped boundaries “again and again”.

She said: “This feels unforgivable and breaks my heart. I would like to step back in time and change what I have done. All I can do now is work on my mental health and make sure I never make the same mistake again.”

Audrey Archer, mitigating, said that Ms Hesse was suffering from “unacknowledged depression and childhood trauma” and suffered from an unhappy marriage during the period of the offending.

Judge Richard Onslow chided Hesse for treating the 13-year-old boy as a “romantic figure” who she subjected to “outpourings of love”.

He said: “You were treating him as a romantic figure knowing all the while that he was 13. You bombarded him with messages and would not listen when he said, ‘please stop’. He found it very difficult to deal with.

“You put a heavy burden on him to satisfy what you perceived to be your needs. Some of these messages were for the purposes of sexual gratification.”

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