CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Citrus County man was sentenced to serve 29 years in prison after he was convicted for the production of child pornography in March.
According to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, Andrew Ezekial Lynch, 33, contacted five different girls aged 13 to 17 years old through Facebook Messenger using serval different fake accounts between May 2017 and May 2018.
The sheriff’s office received tips about Lynch in 2017 after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children contacted CCSO High Tech Crimes Unit Sergeant Tiffany Beery that messages were coming from the same I.P. address in Crystal River.
The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) detectives launched an investigation and found that multiple juveniles were contacted by Lunch and coerced to send sexually explicit photos and videos.
It was revealed that Lynch had also threatened the young girls by claiming he would send their explicit photos and messages to family or post them publicly if they didn’t continue to talk to him.
Once CCSO detectives contacted Lynch at his home, he told authorities that he had no social media accounts, including Facebook. He also denied ever making fake accounts online.
In a later interview, it was revealed that a man who was previously a resident of Lynch’s home, was having several of his old Facebook photos used on the fake accounts used to talk to the minors.
Detectives said the photos used ranged from ones taken when the man was only 15 years old, up to ones taken in his early 20s. The man told police he didn’t know his photos would be used to message juveniles but said he “would not communicate with someone who was underaged.”
After the interview, the FBI took over CCSO’s case, as they were also looking at Lynch for similar crimes. According to a press release, the FBI charged Lynch for the crimes he committed involving these minors.
“Yet another repulsive child predator has been taken off of our streets and put behind bars. The disgusting actions of Andrew Lynch show just how dangerous these perverted individuals can be, threatening several juveniles by using social media as a weapon,” Sheriff Prendergast said in a statement. “My team is dedicated to safeguarding our youth and will remain committed to apprehending predators like Lynch. Thank you to our persistent detectives, Captain Brian Spiddle, and our federal partners for their collaboration and tireless work in this case.”
In addition to his 29 year sentence, Lynch will also have an additional 20 years of supervised release.
Anyone who suspects someone is committing crimes against youths is asked to call 352-249-2790 to immediately report the suspicions to the sheriff’s office. Citizens can also download the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office app to submit a tip.
CCSO App users can look up Sexual Offenders in their area by clicking on the Sexual Offenders’ feature, which will show a photo of the offender, their name, physical descriptors, address, and approximate distance from their location.