FBI child porn raid at Worcester rectory leads to priest’s arrest

2
916

An Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts has been arrested by the FBI on charges of possessing child pornography.  On 13 September 2019 the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts released a statement saying the Rev. Gregory Lisby (40) had been taken into custody  on 11 September at the rectory he shares with his husband, the Rev. Timothy Burger rector of St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Worcester. (Statement below).

In a 13 Sept 2019  letter to the diocese of Western Massachusetts, the Rt. Rev. Douglas Fisher, said: “I have no reason to believe that children in our diocese have been victimized in this situation. Yet, I know that children whose images appear in pornography are heinously abused and violated by the adults who produce and consume it. This reality breaks my heart.”

Bishop Fisher noted he suspended Fr. Lisby from his position as rector of All Saints Church in Worcester in 2018 for “an inappropriate relationship with an adult that did not involve sexual contact.”

“Nothing I discovered during the disciplinary process gave me any reason to believe he was a danger to children,” the bishop added.

Pending the outcome of the investigation, Fr. Lisby has been forbidden to set foot on church property. A kindergarten teacher at the Morgan Elementary School in South Holyoke, Fr. Lisby has tendered his resignation to the school district.

Press statement from the US Attorney for the District of Massachusett’ office:

BOSTON – A former Holyoke kindergarten teacher was arrested last night and charged with possession of child pornography. Yesterday, the defendant resigned from his position as a kindergarten teacher for the Holyoke Public Schools where he was employed.

Gregory Lisby, 40, of Worcester, was arrested last night in Northboro and charged today with one count of possession of child pornography. Lisby will appear in federal court in Boston at 2:15 p.m. today.

According to the charging documents, investigators received a tip that an image depicting child pornography had been uploaded to a Microsoft OneDrive account that was determined to belong to Lisby. Pursuant to a search warrant, investigators reviewed the OneDrive and identified approximately 180 images and 15 videos of child pornography. On Sept. 11, 2018, a search was executed at Lisby’s home where a preliminary on-scene review of Lisby’s OneDrive account, on both his iPad and cellphone, was conducted. Lisby was subsequently arrested last night and charged with possession of child pornography.  

Members of the public who have questions, concerns or information regarding this case should call the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 617-748-3274. 

The charging statute provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division made the announcement today.  The Worcester, Holyoke, Northboro and Southboro Police Departments, along with the Massachusetts State Police provided assistance with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Noto of Lelling’s Worcester Branch Office is prosecuting the case. 

The case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.

The details contained in the criminal complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.