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Christopher Lee Sex Crimes Indictment Raises Concerns Over Similar 2005 Charges

by on October 09, 2014 6:15 AM

Last week’s indictment of Boal Mansion and Museum CEO Christopher Lee on federal charges of child pornography and exploitation has raised many questions over similar misdemeanor charges filed against Lee several years ago.

According to law enforcement sources and numerous news reports, Lee was charged in 2005 with the alleged indecent assault and harassment of two underage boys who were staying overnight at the mansion. These charges were later partially expunged through Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program.

The ARD program is geared toward “treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment” for an alleged crime that is “relatively minor and does not involve a serious breach of the public trust,” according to the Pennsylvania Code.

Jennifer Storm, the governor-appointed Commonwealth Victim Advocate of Pennsylvania, says the ARD program is traditionally intended for use by first-time DUI offenders. Though the program has occasionally seen misdemeanor domestic violence cases, she says ARD is generally not intended for use in alleged crimes with a specific victim or bodily injury.

Mark H. Bergstrom, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, says defendants are recommended to the ARD program on a case-by-case basis by their district attorney, and that decision must be approved by a judge. The specific language of the Pennsylvania Code does not specify what crimes may qualify for the program.

The decision to enroll Lee – a prominent member of the Boalsburg community and, several years later, a Harris Township supervisor – in the ARD program in 2005 raised concerns for some State College professionals who work in abuse advocacy and prevention.

Anne Ard, executive director of the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, says she expressed her opinion in 2005 that enrolling Lee in the ARD program was “inappropriate” to then-Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira. 

“ARD is designed to be a short and relatively time-limited program, and to really address issues where abuse of any kind is involved – including domestic violence or sexual assault of any kind – the intervention and education has to be more intensive and long-term,” Ard says. “A short, six week course is not going to address these issues.”

Ard says it’s also an inappropriate course of action because perpetrators of crimes like sexual abuse and domestic violence often commit similar crimes numerous times over the years.

Last Thursday, FBI agents and State College Police officers arrested Lee on charges related to child pornography, exploitation and bringing minors into the country from overseas with sexual intent. State College police chief Thomas King says Lee has brought underage males to his home for years, leading to the involvement of the FBI to explore the possibility of unreported victims in other countries.

“The recidivism rates of perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence are pretty high,” Ard says. “I feel we have to go all out with our best resources with those cases, and for the most part that includes a combination of incarceration and long-term, ongoing treatment. ARD just doesn’t do that.”

Ard stresses that she is not a law enforcement professional, but says she is not familiar with any case dealing with alleged assault or sexual abuse other than Lee’s being recommended to the ARD program in Centre County.

Andrea Boyles of the Centre County Youth Service Bureau also believes the ARD program is more appropriate for crimes such as public drunkenness and possession of small amounts of marijuana. She is not familiar with any other cases in Centre County involving alleged abuse, assault or minors being referred to ARD.

“When it comes to these types of crimes, I do think we’re doing better as community, even though this is a disgraceful situation,” Boyles says of the current case surrounding Lee.

Storm says a number of changes to the laws regarding sexual assault came out of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. These include changes to the legal definition of the term “perpetrator,” as well as more stringent reporting requirements. Though Storm is not overly familiar with the details of the 2005 allegations against Lee, she points out these changes were not yet in place then.

“In terms of any assaultive behaviors involving minors, one of the huge lessons we learned – not just from Jerry Sandusky, but from many teacher sexual assaults – is that when these crimes are never reported or left undiscovered, that’s a huge part of the problem,” Storm says. “When you allow individuals engaging in assault against minors to expunge their records, you’re setting the next institution up for failure by not giving them the full picture of that person’s past conduct.”

Current Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller could not be reached for comment. Parks Miller was involved in the most recent investigation and arrest of Christopher Lee. Former Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira – who was involved with the 2005 case involving Lee’s alleged indecent assault – could not be reached for comment.

State College attorney Joseph Amendola, who has served as Lee's lawyer in both cases, has not returned multiple requests for comment.


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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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