Mass priest sentenced to 6 years imprisonment on child porn possession charges

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Gregory Lisby

A former Episcopal priest and kindergarten teacher was sentenced last week  in federal court in Worcester for possession of child pornography.

Gregory Lisby, 40, of Worcester, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to six years in prison and five years of supervised release, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts announced on 18 Sep 2020.

Lisby was serving as rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Worcester in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts and worked as a kindergarten teacher with the Holyoke Public School system when he was arrested on 11 Sept 2019 by the FBI. He was taken into custody at the rectory he shared with his husband, the Rev. Timothy Burger rector of St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Worcester.

The Department of Justice press release stated law enforcement discovered an image depicting child pornography that had been uploaded to a Microsoft OneDrive account that belonged to Lisby. Approximately 180 images and 15 videos of child pornography were identified on the OneDrive. On 11 Sept 2019, a search was executed at Lisby’s home where Lisby’s iPad and cellphone were recovered. On those devices, investigators found login credentials for the OneDrive account used to store the child pornography.

In a letter sent to the diocese of Western Massachusetts in February, the Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, stated that following his arrest the diocese received “devastating credible evidence” that Lisby sexually abused a teenager “after he was ordained as a priest in 2007.”

The bishop’s letter did not say where the abuse took place Fisher but noted Lisby’s husband, Rev. Timothy Burger was “in no way implicated in any of these charges” and had filed for divorce.

Lisby was suspended as rector of All Saints Church in Worcester in 2018 for an “inappropriate relationship with an adult that did not involve sexual contact”, the bishop said at the time of Lisby’s arrest. 

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that Lisby’s lawyer admitted his client had had sexual contact with a 16year old boy. Lisby was not charged for this act because the boy had just turned 16, the age of consent in Massachusetts, though the judge allowed the prosecution to use the incident to argue for an enhanced sentence.

Lisby was deposed from the ordained ministry by Bishop Fisher in February.