A Whitehaven man who molested a teenage schoolgirl, leaving her in a “very lonely place” while coming to terms with his crimes, has been sentenced by a judge.
Thirty-year-old Benjamin James Kennedy “created opportunities” to grope the female over her clothing, instructing her not to report his criminal contact and telling her “it was to be their secret”, Carlisle Crown Court heard.
When the offending was reported several months later, the teen described one occasion when Kennedy sexually touched her. “She went to walk off and he said ‘shhh’ to her,” said prosecutor Barbara Webster. He also sent the girl sexually explicit videos and photos.
In an impact statement, the female said: “Everything has just been such a river and rollercoaster of emotions. I feel that it has affected almost everything in my life and shaped how my life is today.” She added: “I feel that I’ve been in a very lonely place while I’ve been struggling to deal with this.”
Kennedy, of Haig Avenue, Bransty, Whitehaven, denied any wrongdoing when quizzed by police but later, in court, admitted eight charges: five of non-penetrative sexual activity with a girl aged under 16; and three of causing a child to watch or look at images of sexual activity.
Hearing Kennedy was a man of previous good character, noting a significant delay in court proceedings and concluding that he should be offered “meaningful help” for issues, Recorder Ciaran Rankin imposed a three-year community order.
Kennedy must complete 150 hours’ unpaid work, rehabilitation and a sex offender course. He must also sign the sex offenders’ register and comply with the strict terms of a prevention order, both for five years.
Recorder Rankin observed that Kennedy had “taken advantage” of the girl.