Man jailed for 16 years for sexually abusing teenage girls at his Northamptonshire drama club
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A 38-year-old man who sexually abused teenage girls linked to a theatre group he ran in Kettering has today (Monday, November 15) been jailed for 16 years, with a further eight-year extended licence.
Christopher Lynch was convicted following a trial at Northampton Crown Court in September during which his victims were forced to give evidence.
The jury heard how he had carried out a reign of abuse, including rape and sexual assault, against a number of girls between 2013 and 2017.
The court was told Lynch, previously of St Stephens Road, Kettering, ran the amateur dramatics company, but used it as an opportunity to target vulnerable young girls who had an interest in acting.
Jurors were told he used his position to his advantage, sexually assaulting his victims during one-to-one auditions.
He actively avoided having chaperones present, ensuring he and each victim were alone in the room. He held the auditions in private rooms in a church, a youth centre, and at his own home address.
On all occasions, his victims, who were aged between 15 and 19 at the time, were led to believe he would help them further their acting careers.
In one case, the court was told, he had visited the home of a victim to discuss a play and used this opportunity to sexually assault her.
Lynch’s abuse only came to light after the victims mentioned what had happened to either family members, friends, or professionals – in some cases months or years later - who then contacted Northamptonshire Police. The complaints were all independent, and none of the victims knew each other.
Lynch was found guilty of one count of rape, three counts of sexual assault and four counts of sexual activity with a child.
He was also found guilty of two charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one of facilitating and commissioning a child sex offence. He was found not guilty of one sexual assault.
Sentencing Lynch, Her Honour Judge Rebecca Crane jailed Lynch for 16 years, and told him he will serve at least two-thirds of his sentence.
Judge Crane defined Lynch as “a dangerous and predatory male who exploited his position and the theatrical ambitions of the young victims for his own personal gain.
“The significant effect of his actions continues to this day, impacting on their relationships, mental health and daily lives.”
Upon release from prison, Lynch will spend the remainder of his sentence on licence and will also be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, prohibiting him from having any unsupervised contact of any kind with any female under the age of 18, or undertaking or seeking to undertake any paid or voluntary position, role, appointment or office which would or is likely to cause him to have any unsupervised contact with any female person under the age of 18.
He will also be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.
Following today’s sentencing, investigating officer Detective Constable Laura Mannion, from the Force’s Child Protection Team, said: “I am pleased with this sentence which reflects the severity of the abuse Lynch carried out over a number of years.
“He deviously put himself into a position of trust to carry out his crimes, taking advantage of his victim’s aspirations to become actresses. He sexually abused them and then tried to cover his tracks and deny what he had done to all that knew him when the police investigation commenced.
“He continued to lie in court as he took the stand to try to convince the jury he was innocent. By doing this he subjected the victims to further trauma, making them give evidence and re-live what he had done to them years earlier.
“I want to again pay tribute to the many brave victims and witnesses involved in this case, who have never wavered in their support to see justice served and protect others.
“Their bravery has ensured Christopher Lynch will now spend many years in prison where he cannot hurt others in this way again. I hope this can be the conclusion they so deserve to what must have been a living nightmare for them, and that they can now move forward with their lives.
“I also hope others who have been in similar situations will be encouraged by this to come forward and report crimes of this nature to the police. Northamptonshire Police will listen to you and support you.”
Liz Fell of the CPS added: “Christopher Lynch posed as an enthusiastic theatre practitioner, giving young performers the opportunity to join creative projects and productions. The reality is he is a dangerous sexual predator who has now been stopped in his tracks, thanks to the courage of his victims in coming forward.
“Lynch preyed on the vulnerability of young girls keen to pursue their passion for performing. The evidence given at trial by the survivors showed he was following a pattern of repeat offending, targeting young people he could manipulate for his own gratification. His offences had a devastating impact on the survivors.”