Teacher Maya Stepney has left Emmerdale viewers feeling very uncomfortable over the path month over her grooming of underage schoolboy Jacob Gallagher.
Unlike other soap grooming storylines in the past, Maya’s manipulation has been much more subtle and initially may not have been clear to viewers.
As with a lot of victims, 15-year-old Jacob (played by 16-year-old Joe-Warren Plant) does not realise he is being groomed and genuinely feels as though he has feelings for Maya.
However there have been a number of warning signs over her behaviour that hint she’s a predator.
Firstly, Maya’s determination to keep Jacob’s feelings a secret from her boyfriend, and his dad, David.
When Jacob first confided in Maya, played by Louisa Clein, she neither rejected his advances nor spoke to his dad about the conversation. Instead, she insisted that they keep their conversation a secret between the two of them.
Not only did this make Jacob feel as though there was a possibility that they could strike up a romance, but she has also built this new intimate level into their relationship. He now feels as though he has a bond with Maya that his dad isn’t a part of.
After his confession, Jacob had tried to avoid Maya but she seemed intent on pulling him back for a cosy chat to ensure that he would stay close to her.
But even before this, there were some hints from other characters that Maya not be so sweet underneath the surface.
Headteacher Jessie Grant voiced her concern back in October when Maya when she became suspicious over her relationship with Noah.
Emmerdale grooming storyline
Maya gave Noah a lift and Jessie was shocked when Maya said that she didn’t realise that there was anything wrong with it.
Jessie pointed out it was breaking the school safeguarding rules and issued her with an official warning for her conduct.
During this time, Leanna stirred up trouble between Noah and Jacob by saying that they were fighting over Maya.
Dr Cavanagh’s daughter has long held a hatred for her former stepmother and has previously said that Maya has got close to her male students in the past. At the time it appeared that Leanna was just trying to wind Maya up, but is there some truth to this?
Maya later lost her cool facade with Leanna and viewers got a glimpse of her nasty side – something that Jacob will soon see.
Her ‘hot-and-cold’ tactic with Jacob ensures that she has total control over the situation.
Next week, Maya will end up being the one to kiss Jacob – will David finally discover what Maya has been doing to his son?
*Emmerdale airs tonight at 7pm on ITV
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