Crime

Lunsford authorized ARD in 2005 Christopher Lee case

Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee

The judge who signed off on Harris Township supervisor and Boal Mansion CEO Christopher Lee’s controversial inclusion into accelerated rehabilitative disposition is the same one who unsealed the documents in his case.

According to the criminal docket involving allegations of indecent assault in 2005, Centre County Judge Bradley P. Lunsford was one of six judges who heard the case at various points between September 2005 and June 2006, along with President Judge Thomas King Kistler and senior judges David Grine and Charles Brown.

According a Sept. 24, 2005, Centre Daily Times article, Lee was arraigned on indecent assault charges before District Judge Tom Jordan. On Sept. 28, he was bound over for trial by District Judge Allen Sinclair, according to a CDT story published the next day.

Lunsford, however, is the one whose name is listed on the state’s Unified Judicial System website as the sentencing judge. That means he is the one who is on file as having agreed to Lee’s admission into the ARD program.

According to the Pennsylvania Code, ARD is a pre-trial diversionary program used to rehabilitate offenders and avoid the expense and time of a trial when crimes are “relatively minor” and do “not involve a serious breach of the public trust.”

Lee was charged with indecent assault after touching two boys, ages 8 and 10, while they stayed at the mansion overnight in 2005. Lee maintained the incident was a misunderstanding and that he had been checking for bedwetting.

The identity of the judge had previously been unavailable after the charges were expunged upon completion of the ARD program. The records were sealed and unavailable, and any of the individual filings in the case are still listed as sealed in the docket.

Lunsford himself revealed the information when he signed an order granting a motion for inspection, copying and disclosure of the documents Oct. 9.

Lunsford said he could not comment on either the present Lee case or the 2005 case, but said he issued the order to unseal the documents because, legally, they cannot remained sealed.

“In terms of the unsealing, we determined through our research that despite an agreement between the attorneys, a file like that cannot be sealed,” Lunsford said.

FBI agents and State College police arrested Lee on Oct. 2. He faces federal charges of alleged use of facilities in interstate commerce to coerce and entice a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity, transportation of a minor with an intent to engage in sexual activity and possession of child pornography.

According to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith and local police, the minor in the case was visiting Boal Mansion from overseas earlier this year when an alleged incident of solicitation occurred at the mansion on the first night of his stay.

The 17-year-old contacted his family via text message, launching the investigation, police said. Four search warrants were executed June 30, after which State College police reached out to the FBI and joined forces.

The alleged child pornography was discovered on one of Lee’s computers after a search of the mansion, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Lee, through defense counsel Joe Amendola, maintains his innocence. He is being held in the Columbia County prison.

Bail was denied on the child exploitation and child pornography charges that could bring a maximum life sentence and/or a $1 million fine. A Dec. 1 trial is scheduled.

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