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Former Manchester lawyer sentenced to 40 years for producing child pornography

Former Manchester lawyer Lisa Biron was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in prison for sexually exploiting a 14-year-old girl multiple times last year, including taking her to Canada for filmed sex with a young man.

In handing down his sentence in Concord’s district court, Judge Paul Barbadoro said that Biron had used the teen as bait to lure young men to have sex with her. He described the 43-year-old’s crimes as “extraordinarily egregious” and called the damage done to the girl “incalculable.”

“That you were willing to exploit her for your own personal gratification is shocking,” he told Biron, who looked on with little emotion. “It makes your crime so serious and worthy of such a lengthy sentence.”

The sentence was in fact 60 years lighter than what prosecutors had sought. But Barbadoro stressed that his calculation was motivated as much by an obligation to punish Biron as an intent to reassure her victim that she shares no responsibility in what transpired.

“I’m not imposing a life sentence for one reason,” he said. “I want the victim to know that I have heard her.”

The girl, now 15, was not present in the courtroom yesterday, but in a recorded statement played earlier, she described Biron as “not the monster she is made out to be.”

“I would love to see (her) have a second chance and not spend the rest of her life behind bars,” the girl said.

Barbadoro said he hoped his decision would help erase any sense of guilt the victim may have.

“In my view, she has been so seriously harmed by (Biron), so seriously damaged, that we need to be sensitive to do what can aid in that healing,” he said. “Over time, I hope she will come to see the truth, that (Biron) is the victimizer.”

U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said his side was satisfied with what amounts to a life sentence.

“Her sentence effectively removes her from society for the balance of her life and eradicates the threat she poses to minors and adolescents,” he said in a statement.

Biron’s attorney, Jim Moir, said his client plans to appeal, but he would not elaborate.

Biron was arrested in October and indicted the following month on eight federal charges, including transporting a minor with intent to film child pornography and exploiting the teen to produce sex videos on multiple occasions. After the trip to Canada, which occurred in May 2012, Biron allegedly used an online ad – in which she described herself and the girl as two adults – to meet young men. One of those men, an 18-year-old from Merrimack, testified during Biron’s trial in January that she had encouraged him to have sex with the girl and had on one occasion filmed them in the act without their knowledge.

Biron became outwardly emotional just once during the sentencing, when she rose to give a brief statement. She claimed her world had fallen apart a few years ago after her husband left her.

“I still don’t understand it and can’t explain it,” she said, adding that she had failed as a Christian. She went on to say that at the height of her free fall she was consuming half a gallon of whiskey every other day. “It was out of control,” she said.

She concluded by addressing the victim, saying, “I am so sorry.”

15 to 100 years

Moir, refrained from defending his client’s actions, characterizing them instead as “morally reprehensible” and “off the charts.” But he tried to pad them with context, explaining that Biron had acted promiscuously as a young adult, and she had worked hard over the past decade to abandon those habits, in part by embracing her religious faith. But when her husband left, he said, she started to go down a “rabbit hole.”

Moir argued that Biron should receive a 15-year sentence because the videos she filmed were brief clips never intended for commercial distribution. Instead, he called them “a kind of warped memento.”

“I’m just trying to put the videos in context,” he said. “They were short, drunken – I shouldn’t use the word ‘jokey.’ Like some drunken kids with an iPhone.”

“The one of them having oral sex wasn’t jokey,” Barbadoro replied.

“I don’t disagree with that,” Moir said.

But, he continued, 15 years is an “incredibly substantial period of time.”

“If we’re worried about further harm to the victim, she’ll long have been an adult, and there won’t be the threat of any more harm to her,” he said. “A 15-year sentence is very serious, particularly for someone who has never been to court before, never been to jail before.”

The prosecution disagreed.

“There’s really no number that captures justice here,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen White Fitzgibbon. She asked for a 100-year sentence to acknowledge the severity of the crimes.

But Barbadoro called that recommendation “vastly arbitrary.”

“I think that gives you a false sense that you’ve done something meaningful,” he told Fitzgibbon. “I understand for you there is a symbolic significance to giving a 100-year sentence, but help me understand what is the right sentence for the terrible crimes committed.”

“The right sentence is one that ensures a life sentence,” Fitzgibbon replied.

Before reading the sentence, Barbadoro acknowledged that Biron had been under “extraordinary stress” before and during her behavior, but he explained he had to consider specifically what she had done and the implications that had for the victim.

What she did was embark on a pattern of “using” the girl “to achieve her own sexual gratification,” he said.

Barbadoro also claimed he was disturbed by comments Biron had made in jail since her arrest, which surfaced publicly during the trial. In them, Biron could be heard saying she “dropped the ball for the last few months” and hadn’t been the “best-behaved” person. She also implicated the girl in the crimes.

“She had a frickin’ part in this,” she said. “Probably bigger than anyone else’s.”

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319,
jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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