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Woman reveals how niece, 35, and ‘best friend’ abused her since she was 14

A young woman has spoken of the ordeal she went through at the hands of a predator who nursed and sexually abused her.

Stephen Griffiths used family matters to target his grandniece, Emily Hodgson.

Emily, 19, from Merseyside, revealed that Griffiths started targeting her when she was just 14 years old.

He was 35 years old at the time, but as a relative in a close-knit family, he was regularly invited to parties and gatherings.

Emily finally found the confidence to report the abuse three years later and confided in her mother on the morning of her 17th birthday.

Griffiths was convicted of two counts of assault, sexual communication with a child and causing a child to watch a person engage in sexual activity. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison in September 2021.

Stephen Griffiths, 35, used family affairs to target his great-niece, Emily Hodgson, 14, from Merseyside at one point by sprinkling her with cocaine before imposing himself on her.  Pictured: Emily at age 13 with Griffiths at a family gathering

Stephen Griffiths, 35, used family affairs to target his great-niece, Emily Hodgson, 14, from Merseyside at one point by sprinkling her with cocaine before imposing himself on her. Pictured: Emily at age 13 with Griffiths at a family gathering

Teaching assistant Emily, now 19, said she considered Stephen her best friend and struggled to accept that he had 'brainwashed' her

Teaching assistant Emily, now 19, said she considered Stephen her best friend and struggled to accept that he had 'brainwashed' her

Teaching assistant Emily, now 19, said she considered Stephen her best friend and struggled to accept that he had ‘brainwashed’ her

Teaching Assistant Emily, from Merseyside, says: ‘I struggled for a long time with the fact that the person I thought was my cousin, my best friend, was actually a pedophile. I was completely brainwashed and it was hard to accept.’

The care started on a family birthday. Emily’s mother, Colette, is the cousin of Griffiths’ mother, who is also Emily’s godmother.

Emily says, “My mom was talking to Stephen that I was having a hard time at school and that some of the kids were being a little mean. He said he would take care of me and help me.

Griffiths was convicted of two counts of assault, sexual communication with a child and causing a child to watch a person engage in sexual activity.  He was jailed for 33 months in September 2021

Griffiths was convicted of two counts of assault, sexual communication with a child and causing a child to watch a person engage in sexual activity.  He was jailed for 33 months in September 2021

Griffiths was convicted of two counts of assault, sexual communication with a child and causing a child to watch a person engage in sexual activity. He was jailed for 33 months in September 2021

“He had never noticed me before, so I was very grateful. It felt like I had someone by my side. He was an adult and so I trusted him.

“Then Stephen started messaging me to see how school was going. That was the beginning of the trimming, but nobody realized it then.

“He was always the center of attention, full of confidence, and I looked up to him. I was close to his mother because she was my godmother.’

But a few months later, Stephen’s posts became inappropriate and she referred to Emily as “gorgeous” and “sexy.” She deleted the posts for fear of getting in trouble.

Emily says, “I had built up confidence in him and he was 20 years older, so I believed every word he said. I just thought he was being complimentary. My self confidence was low and I was just a kid. I wasn’t sure what was acceptable and what wasn’t.

“He started calling me at 2 a.m. asking if I had a boyfriend, if I’d had sex. I felt uncomfortable. He told me I needed a real man and he asked me to have sex with him. He warned me to keep our conversations private and said I’d be in trouble otherwise, even if he was the one who was wrong.

Emily with her partner Ben Duffy, whom she met in college when she was 16.  The couple is pictured together on her 17th birthday, when she collapsed and told her mother about the abuse

Emily with her partner Ben Duffy, whom she met in college when she was 16.  The couple is pictured together on her 17th birthday, when she collapsed and told her mother about the abuse

Emily with her partner Ben Duffy, whom she met in college when she was 16. The couple is pictured together on her 17th birthday, when she collapsed and told her mother about the abuse

Emily, pictured at age 13, turned to her niece for support as she struggled at school

Emily, pictured at age 13, turned to her niece for support as she struggled at school

The teen said she was 'out of her depth' and did not understand what was happening when the abuse started

The teen said she was 'out of her depth' and did not understand what was happening when the abuse started

Emily, pictured left at age 13, turned to her cousin for support as she struggled at school. The teen said she was ‘out of her depth’ and did not understand what was happening when the abuse started

‘I was only 14 and very naive. I felt out of my depth.’

Griffiths then sent Emily an explicit picture of his genitals.

She says, “I was shocked and a little concerned, but he apologized and said he shouldn’t have sent it. But then he asked if I liked the picture. I didn’t know what to do.’

The first assault took place in a taxi after a family gathering.

Emily says, “My parents were in the cab, but he secretly ran his hand up and down my leg. When he got out of the taxi, he squeezed my ass as he said goodbye.’

Emily, pictured at a family party with Griffiths, recalled dotting her with cocaine before sexually assaulting her

Emily, pictured at a family party with Griffiths, recalled dotting her with cocaine before sexually assaulting her

Emily, pictured at a family party with Griffiths, recalled dotting her with cocaine before sexually assaulting her

After Emily turned 15, in March 2017, she attended a family celebration to celebrate the Grand National. While she was in the bathroom, Stephen broke in and offered her cocaine.

She says, ‘I tried to say no, but he put it under my nose and said, ‘Do you want some of this, it’ll make you horny.’ I didn’t even know what it was, I had never used drugs in my life.

“I felt sick with panic. I sniffed as he said and then he started kissing me and lifting my dress. He touched me inappropriately and I just froze.

In September, Griffiths was sentenced to 33 months in prison, was given a restraining order and had to sign the sex offender registry.

In September, Griffiths was sentenced to 33 months in prison, was given a restraining order and had to sign the sex offender registry.

In September, Griffiths was sentenced to 33 months in prison, given a restraining order and had to sign the sex offender registry.

“Then he heard someone come up to the bathroom, and that scared him. I was physically ill and in tears afterwards, but I couldn’t tell anyone. I just thought no one would believe me.

“I felt absolutely isolated, like I had nowhere to go. My parents loved Stephen, they kept saying he was funny and entertaining, and it really confused me.’

Emily went on to study criminology and photography in college and when she was 16 she met her current partner, Ben Duffy.

She says, “I confided in Ben and he made me understand the seriousness of the abuse. I told Ben that Stephen had said I’d be the one in trouble, not him, and as I said the words I realized how ridiculous that sounded.

“It all fell into place. I realized that I had been completely brainwashed and abused by a pedophile.’

Ben persuaded Emily to tell her parents, who were fully behind her, and she went to the police.

She says: ‘It was the night before my 17th birthday and Mommy made a comment about something Stephen had said very funny. I just snapped; telling them he was bad and horrible and not funny at all.

‘My mother was taken by surprise, she had no idea what caused my outburst. The next morning, on my birthday, I told her everything.

Emily, pictured with her boyfriend Ben Duffy, said the lawsuit has split her family, with some family members siding with Griffiths and refusing to believe her

Emily, pictured with her boyfriend Ben Duffy, said the lawsuit has split her family, with some family members siding with Griffiths and refusing to believe her

Emily, pictured with her boyfriend Ben Duffy, said the lawsuit has split her family, with some family members siding with Griffiths and refusing to believe her

“I had to accept that the person I thought was my best friend, whom I had trusted, was actually quite the opposite. He was a pedophile. It really hurt me.’

Griffiths denied the charges, but jurors at the Hilton Nightingale court in Liverpool found him guilty earlier this year on two counts of assault, sexual communication with a child and causing a child to watch a person engage in sexual activity.

In September, Griffiths was sentenced to 33 months in prison, was given a restraining order and had to sign the sex offender registry.

Emily says, “Looking back at everything, I feel nauseous and for a long time it made me feel stupid. be so naive.

“The lawsuit has split the family in two; my godmother turned against us. But my own close family has been so supportive of me and I don’t regret going to the police. I would like to encourage other young women and men to speak out.

“It’s only when you confide in someone, and you say it out loud, that you realize how wrong it is. I have been abused both mentally and physically and it could take a lifetime to get over it.

“But I won’t let Stephen ruin my life anymore. I am a survivor and I share my story because I want to help other young people. I want to make a difference.’

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