Victim Shevaun relives Marine kidnap trauma a decade on

Toby Studabaker and (below) Shevaun Pennington
Toby Studabaker and (below) Shevaun Pennington

A WIGAN woman who as a schoolgirl sparked an international search after she was abducted by a US Marine has warned that teacher Jeremy Forrest’s teenaged victim could face years of trauma.

Shevaun Pennington has waived her right to anonymity to speak candidly about the dramatic events of a decade ago when the 12-year-old was groomed by Toby Studabaker and they fled to mainland Europe.

Shevaun Pennington

Shevaun Pennington

Studabaker was later jailed for abduction but Shevaun has revealed that he still writes to her from prison in the US, although she has no desire to see him when he is released.

Now 22, Shevaun spoke to The Sun newspaper this week to reflect on the aftermath of Forrest’s five-and-a-half-year sentence for kidnapping a besotted 15-year-old.

The teacher and the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, spent eight days on the run in France before they were tracked down to Bordeaux.

The girl says that she wants to marry Forrest when he is released from jail.

And former Lowton High School pupil Shevaun, who currently lives alone after splitting from her long-time boyfriend, says the girl doubtless feels she loves Forrest.

Shevaun told the national newspaper: “She’ll be feeling totally lost. I’m not surprised she thinks she loves him and is saying she’ll wait for him.

“Her body and mind are developing fast and she’s been through such a traumatic experience.

“I hope people are going to be more understanding about her and than they were to me. For me there were always people there ready to poke fun. I’d been on the front pages of all the newspapers and they all knew it.

“I dropped out of school at 14. I suffered from anxiety and I couldn’t be sat there with people around me. I just didn’t feel comfortable.”

Shevaun said her family were torn apart by the trauma and she feels sorry for her parents for “putting them through the wringer”.

Michigan widower Studabaker, now 41, is currently in a US jail. When he returned to America after serving his four-year British sentence for Shevaun’s abudction he was arrested again, this time for possession of child pornography, and eventually handed an 11-year sentence.

Shevaun said she had followed the Forrest case very closely because she had spotted many similarities between it and her own.