Former U.S. Navy Lt. Commander and Catholic Priest Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charges
A former U.S. Navy Lt. Commander and ordained Catholic priest pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware to one count of production of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III of the District of Delaware.
John Thomas Matthew Lee, 50, of Millsboro, Delaware, pleaded guilty today before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Leonard P. Stark of the District of Delaware. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 2, 2016. Lee is a registered sex offender following his 2007 conviction in a general court martial of sexually assaulting another Naval officer. Lee has been in custody since his arrest on Nov. 3, 2014.
Following a series of CyberTipline reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) agents were able to trace to Lee accounts that were being used to upload images of child pornography to several social networking sites. In executing a search warrant at Lee’s residence in Millsboro, agents found tens of thousands of child-pornography images on several of Lee’s electronic devices, including his phone. Via online messenger applications and text messages, Lee also used his phone to induce several juveniles to send him pornographic images of themselves. Lee uploaded at least one of these images to a publicly accessible social media site. He also traded other images of child pornography online with other adults.
This investigation was conducted by ICE-HSI Resident in Charge Wilmington, Delaware, with assistance from several other ICE-HSI regional offices to locate and interview the juvenile victims. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Herbrina D. Sanders of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. McAndrew of the District of Delaware.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.