The mother of a teenager charged in connection with an investigation into child sexual exploitation and abuse said he would not harm anybody.
Jake Ormerod appeared at Exeter Crown Court on two charges under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 of engaging or inciting a girl to engage in sexual activity.
Devon and Cornwall Police said on Thursday that their inquiry may involve 20 or more victims, mainly girls aged 12 and above, in Torbay and Teignbridge in Devon.
As 19-year-old Ormerod, wearing a red hooded top, left the dock, he shouted: “I love you mum.”
She replied: “I love you too.”
Speaking outside court, Janet Hoddy, 52, said: “I’m just worried sick. There’s no way my son could do any harm. He wouldn’t take advantage of a young girl, he’s in the process of getting back with his girlfriend.
“He is there for me all the time. I’m disabled and he lives with me and does all my washing and shopping.”
Ormerod, of Babbacombe Road, Torquay, is due to appear before the same court for a plea and directions hearing on May 27. After hearing an application for bail in private. Judge Jeremy Griggs remanded Ormerod into custody and said he will hear a full bail application in seven days.
Police say they are investigating whether the allegations are linked to social networking sites.
The local council wrote to thousands of parents of children at secondary schools in the area informing them of the investigation. But officers stressed that the allegations did not involve paedophiles snatching children off the street.