Catholic priest gets prison for producing child porn

By Jessica Masulli Reyes
News Journal
February 8, 2017


A former U.S. Navy chaplain and Catholic priest from Millsboro has been sentenced to 30 years in prison and lifetime supervision for taking pornographic pictures of a teen boy, according to U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III of Delaware.

John Thomas Matthew Lee, 51, was sentenced by Judge Leonard P. Stark in U.S. District Court in Delaware on Wednesday afternoon.

Lee, a registered sex offender in Delaware, already served two years in prison after he was court-martialed in 2007 on allegations that he used his position as a Catholic priest in the Navy to prey on lower-ranking servicemen and failed to tell a sex partner he was HIV-positive.

The investigation into Lee's current case began in 2013 when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children got a cybertip indicating Lee's cellphone had attempted to upload an image of three naked boys lying on a bed, according to court documents.

Special agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and the Delaware Child Predator Task Force executed a search warrant in 2014 at Lee's Millsboro home, according to court documents.

A forensic examination of his laptop and computer turned up tens of thousands of child pornography images and hundreds of videos. Investigators also found 13,000 text conversations and direct chats on Lee's phone, according to statements made in court.

A 17-year-old boy, whom Lee chatted with on social media, told investigators that Lee traveled from Delaware to Maryland to pick him up on one occasion. The two had a sexual encounter in Lee's car, and Lee never disclosed to the boy that he was HIV-positive, according to court documents.

During the encounter, Lee took a nude picture of the boy and later posted it to a social media account, courts documents said.

Lee was arrested in November 2014 and indicted. He pleaded guilty a year later to production and distribution of child pornography.



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