Greenfield pastor pleads guilty to assaulting teenager he was counseling

  • Greenfield Police Department STAFF FILE PHOTO BY BEN CONANT

  • The Greenfield Police. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/25/2022 1:43:45 PM
Modified: 4/25/2022 1:42:28 PM

A Greenfield pastor accused of sexually assaulting a young girl he was giving pastoral counseling to pleaded guilty Wednesday to more than a dozen counts aggravated felonious sexual assault.

Christopher Lawton of Greenfield was charged with multiple counts that he used his position of authority as a counselor to coerce an underage girl to perform sexual acts over a period of more than a year in 2015 and 2016. The girl was between the ages of 13 and 17 at the times of the crimes.

The assaults allegedly took place in multiple locations, including in Peterborough, Wilton, Francestown, Greenfield, at his home or in a vehicle, and all occurred while Lawton was in a position of authority as the girl’s counselor.

Lawton pleaded guilty in Hillsborough Superior Court North to eight counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, with a concurrent sentence of 7 1/2 to 15 years. He also pleaded guilty to eight counts of felonious aggravated sexual assaults, with a potential sentence of up to 10 to 20 years in New Hampshire State Prison. The sentence for all of those counts is suspended for 12 years following his release on the lesser charges, under the plea agreement.

In addition, as part of the plea, Lawton will have to participate in and complete sex offender treatment while incarcerated. Upon completion of the treatment, 2 1/2 years of the minimum sentence will be suspended, allowing him to be released within five years.

In addition, Lawton can have no unsupervised contact with any minors, and specifically his victim, either in person, by phone or computer, with the exception of his biological children. He cannot provide any teaching or counseling services. His use of computers or access to the internet may be controlled during his parole, and his probation officer will have access to his internet accounts and history, and his cellphone photo, internet and call history. 

He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

The court reserves the right to reject the plea proposal and administer a different sentence. Lawton is scheduled to appear before Judge William Delker at Hillsborough Superior Court North in Manchester on June 15 for sentencing.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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