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Press Release

Former U.S. Navy Lt. Commander and Catholic Priest Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Delaware

WILMINGTON, Del. – 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 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 at 10:00 a.m.  Lee is a registered sex offender following his 2007 conviction in a general court martial of sexually assaulting another Naval officer while serving as a Chaplain at its United States Naval Academy.  Lee has been in custody since his November 3, 2014 arrest. 

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. 

U.S. Attorney Oberly stated, “I commend all the investigators and prosecutors who have played a role in bringing this second offender to justice.  As a predator focusing his attention on children, Mr. Lee can expect to spend many years, if not the remainder of his life, in prison.  The Government’s efforts to rid society of those who exploit and abuse children is of the highest priority and we will continue to seek out these criminals.”

This case is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward J. McAndrew.

Updated November 16, 2015

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