Cambridge alumnus Alex Woolf convicted for uploading stolen images to porn sites
Following his recent conviction, The Tab talks to Alex Woolf’s victims who speak out against his “depraved” crimes
C/N: Sexual misconduct and reference to pornographic sites
A former Cambridge student has been convicted of taking images of women from social media and uploading them to pornographic sites without their permission.
Alex Woolf, who studied music at St John’s College from 2013-2016, was given a 20-week prison sentence, suspended for two years at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Monday (August 16).
Woolf downloaded pictures of clothed victims from social media and uploaded them to Reddit, asking people to paste their faces onto porn actresses’ bodies. His victims were all people known to him, and some were students at Cambridge University.
He then posted these pictures on Twitter under various different usernames, as well as adult sites, all accompanied by sexually explicit and derogatory comments.
Victims speak out
Two of the victims spoke to the Tab Cambridge exclusively about their experiences who, for their safety, will remain anonymous. One woman who spoke to us explained that she considered Alex a “very, very good friend,” having known him for many years before the conviction.
She suspects his actions of using her images online had been going on for almost five years, as she frequently was notified of dating sites that were using her Facebook or Instagram photos “to catfish people or create fake profiles.”
She continued that in the summer of 2020 she was made aware of a social media account “using her images to solicit sexual activity” and further, in early 2021 an anonymous email alerted her to a Reddit account where her pictures were being posted with “very degrading, very overtly sexual” comments.
The experience left her “really, really terrified” and when another email in March of 2021 directed her to a pornographic site, with “deepfakes” of her own and other girls’ images edited onto pornographic images she was left feeling “incredibly traumatised.”
Viewing the images on this porn site is what allowed her to establish Woolf as the culprit. She explained scrolling through and seeing images of girls she didn’t recognise, but it was taken “somewhere that [she] had been like, somewhere that [she] knew.”
The picture in question was “in one of the rooms in St. John’s College in Cambridge” and connecting the girls in the picture as someone with whom she had mutual friends, to the location led to the realisation that Alex must have been behind the postings – explaining that her “heart sank” as “things started to fall into place.”
Another victim expressed her horror at discovering her friend was behind these images and comments. She emphasises “how good a liar he was” telling us “he was one of my best friends, he came across as such as nice guy.” She explained that he “really wormed his way into people’s lives whilst he was doing this stuff.”
The girls who had suffered due to Woolf’s actions connected through social media and 15 out of 17 victims took the case to the police, an experience that one woman described as “the worst six months” of her life, with the experience of collating all the evidence against him being a “traumatic” and “strange experience.”
Convicted for 15 counts of sending messages that were grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing
Alongside the 20-week suspended prison sentence, Woolf has been ordered to delete all of the victims’ images from his devices and was given an indefinite restraining order prohibiting contact with the women.
Woolf is required to undertake a 40-day rehabilitation programme, to do 40 sessions with a sex offender programme and 180 hours of unpaid work.
He must pay each of his victims £100 in compensation, as well as £85 in court costs and a £128 victim surcharge.
The women we spoke to welcomed his conviction, with one expressing “we’re delighted that we’ve got a restraining order.” She continued that they “really fought for the things that we thought we deserved” although “extending therapy and counselling options to the victims, and not just Alex, would have been amazing.”
Varinder Hayre, District Crown Prosecutor at the CPS, said: “Woolf’s behaviour is severely depraved and reprehensible, and has had a drastic impact on his victims.”
Heather Hancock, Master of St John’s College has commented: “We are shocked and horrified by this case. Our thoughts are with all the women affected and I think they have been very courageous in coming forward.”
Furthermore, a University Spokesperson has told The Tab: “Harassment and sexual misconduct are not tolerated by the University of Cambridge. We condemn the abhorrent and reprehensible crimes of Alexander Woolf and offer our deepest sympathies to the victims. Woolf was an undergraduate student, but has never been employed by the University in any capacity.”
They continue: “We would encourage any student who experiences harassment of any kind to report it to our dedicated Office of Student Conduct, Complaints & Appeals (OSCCA). There is support available and there are systems in place for any student who has been affected by harassment or sexual misconduct to report their experience to the University.”
“In addition to University counselling and college support, the University has a dedicated Sexual Assault and Harassment Advisor to give students one-to-one specialist support. Information on reporting options and how to access support available inside and outside of the University can be found on the University’s ‘Breaking the Silence’ and Student Complaints webpages.”
Feature image credits: Cambridge Chorale on Youtube