Museum director jailed on child exploitation, child porn charges

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WILLIAMSPORT — The executive director of the Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion Museum in Centre County has been charged with child exploitation and child pornography.

Christopher G. Lee, 65, of Boalsburg, who also is a Harris Twp. supervisor, was arraigned Thursday in U.S. Middle District Court and ordered detained without bail despite his plea he is needed at the museum in Boalsburg because it is basically a one-man operation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith A. Taylor called him a danger to the community and because he has family in France, a flight risk.

Lee was indicted Wednesday in Harrisburg and arrested Thursday morning by the FBI and State College police. His lawyer, Joseph Amendola, told Magistrate Judge William I. Arbuckle III his client was aware he was under investigation and is innocent.

The alleged illegal activity occurred between May and June 21 at the museum that conducts educational summer programs using students recruited in the United States and other countries as volunteer tour guides.

The investigation into Lee began after police obtained information his godson from the United Arab Emirates allegedly had been sexually molested in the living quarters of the museum, Taylor said.

Lee is alleged to have engaged in a sexual conversation with the 17-year-old in his car after picking him up upon his arrival in the State College area. That evening, the prosecutor alleged, Lee asked the boy to come to his bedroom, which he did in his pajamas.

The teen was shown a hypnosis video that was followed by inappropriate sexual touching and an offer of oral sex, which the boy refused, Taylor alleged.

The boy sent a text message to a cousin and aunt in the Boston area asking to be removed from the house and he finally walked away waiting for them to arrive, she said.

During the execution of search warrants, she said authorities found the hypnosis video and 50 to 60 images of child pornography on a computer. Thousands of images were found during a further review of the laptop and an external hard drive, she said.

Lee’s DNA was found on the pajamas the boy was wearing when allegedly fondled in the bedroom, Taylor told Arbuckle.

Amendola claimed he has evidence the boy who made the complaint had alcohol and drug problems and argued scores of individuals had access to the computer.

Lee had been arrested in 2005 in an indecent assault case involving two boys age 8 and 10 but he was accepted into the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program for first-time offenders.

The indictment charges Lee with enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity, transportation of a minor for sexual purposes and receiving and possessing child pornography.

The transportation charge has a maximum sentence of life along with a 10-year mandatory minimum. The receipt of child pornography count has a five-year mandatory minimum.