Crime

Boal Mansion CEO Christopher Lee seeks release on bail

Boal Mansion CEO Christopher Lee wants to be released on bail pending trial on child exploitation and child pornography charges.

The request was filed Friday in U.S. Middle District Court by his new attorney, Kyle Rude, of Williamsport.

Rude is seeking to have Judge Matthew Brann revoke the order of Magistrate Judge William I. Arbuckle III denying bail for Lee, who has been jailed since his Oct. 2 arrest.

Rude claims his client is not a flight risk, poses no danger to the community and would surrender his passport and accept being monitored electronically or by GPS.

Arbuckle refused to set bail after Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Taylor argued he was a danger to the community and a flight risk because he has family in France. She also noted that Lee, who also is a Harris Township supervisor, is facing a lengthy prison term if convicted.

Joe Amendola, who was Lee’s attorney at the time of his arraignment, argued for bail, saying his client had been aware of the investigation. He claimed the boy who allegedly was exploited had drug and alcohol problems. It is not clear why Rude is now representing Lee.

The charges stem from alleged incidents between January and June of this year that occurred on the Boal Mansion premises, according to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith. The museum’s activities include a docent program in which American and international students serve as volunteer tour guides.

Lee 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 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.

During the execution of the first search warrant, between 50 and 60 images of child pornography were found on a computer. As the result of a second search warrant and further review of the laptop and an external hard drive, thousands of alleged images were discovered, police said.

Amendola claimed scores of people would have had access to the computer.

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