A children’s entertainer has pleaded guilty to raping and sexually abusing girls over a 20 year period.
Anthony Lewis, 58, admitted 20 charges of abuse against five victims for offences spanning from 1987 to 2007.
The offences, including nine counts of rape, took place in Norfolk, Surrey, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.
Judge Justice Shaw told Norwich Crown Court Lewis had carried out the “gravest campaign of sexual abuse against children”.
The court was told Lewis of Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, worked as an entertainer, setting up talent shows and targeting young children and their families with the promise of fame.
Sibling’s playtime affected
He ran the Phoenix Youth Organisation in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire where he claimed to create “socially inclusive environments for young people”.
Prosecutor Duncan O’Donnell said Lewis was instead a “predatory paedophile”, who used his position to groom some of his child victims, all of whom are now adults.
One of the women described being first sexually assaulted by Lewis when she was aged six.
Another was sexually assaulted aged five, while staying in a hostel, with the abuse continuing until she was 14 years old, only stopping after her family moved to Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.
She said: “I felt I could not be around men at all at the time. I could not even play with my own brother as a child.”
Disbelieved by mothers
The victim’s marriage broke down after less than a year due to the psychological trauma of the abuse, the court heard.
In their impact statements, the five women described struggling to form relationships as a consequence, with all suffering trust issues.
They also told of being disbelieved by their mothers when they tried to report what had taken place.
All recounted distressing childhoods involving alcohol, drugs and self-harm during their teens, while as adults they have had to rely on anti-depressants.
Lewis, a grandfather with three children pleaded guilty to nine counts of rape, 10 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault.
He will be sentenced on Thursday.