LOUISA — A Bumpass man who led authorities on a 10-day manhunt last year will spend a decade in prison for child sex crimes involving a 14-year-old-girl.
Bruce William Lynch Jr., 34, appeared in Louisa County Circuit Court for sentencing Monday after pleading guilty in July to four counts of carnal knowledge of a minor without force and four counts of indecent liberties with a minor.
Last year, Lynch was the target of a massive, multi-department manhunt across multiple states after he and the girl disappeared in the middle of the night.
According to testimony from Louisa’s commonwealth’s attorney, Rusty McGuire, Lynch sent fake messages to throw off authorities that indicated he and the victim were fleeing to West Virginia while, in actuality, they were hiding out in an abandoned property in Louisa County. They eventually were found in Caroline County.
“This case is a parent’s worst nightmare,” McGuire said. “You wake up and find out your young child is missing from the house.”
Lynch and the child disappeared last October after the child’s mother, who previously had been in a relationship with Lynch, became suspicious of his behavior toward her daughter.
Thanks to a tip from a Caroline County resident, McGuire said authorities were able to apprehend Lynch and it soon became apparent that the girl had chosen to run away with Lynch. In interviews with the police the night of his arrest, Lynch eventually told police that he had not raped or abducted the girl and claimed to be in love with her.
During arguments, McGuire emphasized the impact on the girl, who he said was not doing well and likely would need years of therapy. Lynch also put the blame for the incident on other people instead of himself, McGuire said, declining to take responsibility for robbing the victim of her innocence.
“It’s Mr. Lynch’s fault, he should have stopped any of this from happening,” he said. “He is a father and he should have known better than to have sex with a child.”
According to Lynch’s attorney, 11 people had shown up to testify as character witnesses on behalf of Lynch. Though none of them ended up being called to testify, Lynch’s attorney said they all would have described him as an “excellent father” and “wonderful man.”
Additionally, the low risk of recidivism indicated by Lynch’s static-99 risk assessment was cited. The assessment is given to sex offenders.
McGuire took issue with the results of the assessment, which he argued is intended to be used to determine treatment methods and does not accurately reflect whether someone is likely to commit a similar offense again.
Before being sentenced, Lynch pulled out a handwritten note and read aloud a short apology to the court.
“If I could go back in time, I would stop this all from happening,” he read. “But at this point, all I can do is ask for forgiveness and mercy from the court.”
Judge Timothy K. Sanner sentenced Lynch to five years in prison on each of the eight counts but suspended three years and nine months for each charge, for an active sentence of 10 years.
Lynch also will have to complete various counseling and therapy requirements and must register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.