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Teen Flies To UK, Testifies Against Online Abuser

A 15-year-old girl flew to Manchester from her Georgia home to testify in court against the man who had victimized her online, leading to his four-year jail sentence.

Daniel Howarth, 18, had been preying on the girl and another teenage boy in a campaign of abuse that started in 2014. Howard blackmailed his victims into performing "bizarre and degrading acts," including drinking urine and harming themselves, according to the Daily Mail.

The case began in November 2014, when Howarth started a conversation with the girl -- who suffered from depression and had just moved to a new school -- on social networking app Kik that lasted all night and resulted in the two exchanging nude photos. Howarth threatened to send the images to the girl's school if she did not comply with his degrading requests.

Howarth made his female victim send him photos of herself performing sex acts, as well as drinking her own urine, not showering, and eating coffee. He also ordered her to talk to other men online, flirting with them before ridiculing and humiliating them. Howarth threatened to come to the U.S. to "beat and rape" her in front of her family if she did not follow his instructions.

Howarth also had a 15-year-old male victim, whom he coerced into drinking his own urine, filling his mouth with toilet paper, and eating his own feces. The boy was also ordered to harm himself with knives and wires.

During an investigation, police discovered that Howarth had set up an online support forum for depression and self-harm, which could have given him access to a huge number of vulnerable potential victims, according to International Business Times.

When the girl flew to the U.K. to testify against Howarth, she described her abuse, even telling her abuser, "Look at me when I'm talking to you." He had difficulty making eye contact with her. "God forgives you, and I forgive you," she said.

Howarth received a sentence of four years in prison, and will remain on parole until 2024. The judge in the case, Richard Mansell, described Howarth as an "extremely troubled young man," saying that he showed no remorse for what he had done.

"A number of factors are present in this case indicative of you presenting a serious risk of causing serious harm from further offenses," Mansell told Howarth. "The degree of planning, the manner in which you groomed each child with friendly behavior which very soon turned to sexualized aggression, humiliation and victimization."

Sources: Daily Mail, International Business Times / Photo credit: Horace Ko/Flickr

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