Former soldier gets prison for sexual contact with child

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — An Illinois man has been sentenced to spend more than nine years in prison after he admitted having sexual contact with a child 15 years ago when he was a soldier at Georgia’s Fort Stewart.

Clarence Michael Lynch of Highland, Illinois, was sentenced Thursday to serve nine years and one month in prison followed by 15 years of supervised release and was ordered to pay a fine of $2,000. He had pleaded guilty to abusive sexual contact of a child under 12. He was already a registered sex offender because of a previous conviction, prosecutors said.

“Justice for this victim was long delayed, but ultimately not denied as the predator is now being held accountable for his vile actions,” U.S. Attorney David Estes said in a news release.

Lynch, 43, was convicted in 2007 on state charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment with a 15-year-old victim and served 10 years in a Georgia state prison. He received a dishonorable discharge from the Army because of the conviction.

Three years after he was released from state prison, a previous victim contacted police in Belleville, Illinois, to report multiple contacts from Lynch. They included messages in which he admitted sexually abusing the victim, who was 10 years old at the time, while he was stationed at Fort Stewart in 2006.

U.S. Army criminal investigators questioned Lynch and arrested him in March 2021. He was returned to Georgia and pleaded guilty.