Former priest, Navy chaplain to be sentenced in child porn case
October 02, 2016
|His face covered with a jacket, former US Navy Lt. Commander John Thomas Lee, a chaplain, is escorted out of a courtroom in 2007, at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia.|
Photo by M. Scott Mahaskey
A former Navy chaplain and Catholic priest who sexually assaulted a Naval Academy midshipman years ago is now facing sentencing on federal child pornography charges, with the nation's largest advocacy group for clerical abuse victims calling for a maximum sentence.
WILMINGTON, Del. - A former Navy chaplain and Catholic priest who sexually assaulted a Naval Academy midshipman years ago is facing sentencing on federal child pornography charges.
Sentencing for John Thomas Matthew Lee of Millsboro, which has been postponed several times, is now set for Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Lee, who faces up to 50 years in prison, pleaded guilty last November to production and distribution of child pornography.
Lee was court-martialed in 2007 on charges including forcible sodomy and failing to tell a sex partner he was HIV-positive, and he served time in prison.
Lee, who registered as a sex offender in Delaware in 2013, was arrested in 2014 after a multistate investigation.
Authorities say Lee uploaded child pornography to social networking sites and persuaded several juveniles to send him pornographic images of themselves.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, the largest advocacy group on behalf of victims of clerical abuse in the country, last year called for Lee to receive a long-term prison sentence.
“Lee also worked in Washington D.C.,” the SNAP statement said.
“We hope he’s given the maximum sentence. And we hope that every single current and former Catholic church employee and member who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes will call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.”
“His selfishness was so strong, he was willing to destroy the lives of others to make himself happy,” prosecutor Marine Major Derek Brostek said back in 2007, according to The Washington Post.
As early as 2004, Lee reportedly used his rank and standing as a chaplain and Catholic priest to facilitate sexual interactions with a minimum of three service members. In one case, a troubled young man sought his counsel. Lee invited the man back to his apartment following dinner, where the two drank scotch and beer. All of a sudden, Lee started masturbating.
Lee then came on to the man, at which point the man, now an ensign, told Lee firmly that he wasn’t interested. In response, Lee reportedly said, “It’s all right, it’s all right.”
Lee was registered as a sex offender in Delaware in 2013.