A GYM instructor who groomed a girl for sexual activity has been jailed for eight months.

Now a woman, the victim told York Crown Court Ben Towler “left me a life crushing weight to carry”.

“This man blatantly manipulated and took advantage of an innocent child,” she said.

“He did this for his own satisfaction and disregarded my own humanity.”

His actions had affected her mentally and emotionally but she was determined to rebuild her life, the court heard.

A jury in September heard how Towler befriended the teenager when she attended a York gym.

At the time she was underage.

She kept quiet about the abuse for years before speaking out.

Towler, 34, now of Church Street, Greasbrough, Rotherham, denied five charges of sexual activity with a child. The jury convicted him of the kissing, and acquitted him of the other four.

He was jailed for eight months, barred from working with children, made subject to a sexual harm prevention order and put on the sex offenders’ register, both for 10 years.

The judge said by the time Towler kissed her, the girl was “infatuated” with him.

For Towler, Alex Menary said prison would cost him his job and probably mean his family would lose their home. His current employer was willing to have him back if he was not jailed.

Speaking after the case, an NSPCC spokesperson said: “Towler’s manipulation and abuse left his victim facing a lifetime of mental and emotional scars.

“Her courage in speaking out must be commended, and led to Towler being held accountable for his actions. The NSPCC would urge anyone who has suffered sexual abuse to seek support, no matter when it happened, as time is no barrier to justice being served.”

Children can contact Childline 24/7 on 0800 1111. Adults who wish to report historic abuse, or who are concerned about a child’s welfare, can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000.