Ex-Youth Leader Gets 40 Years

Billy Gibbons, left, of ZZ Top and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos pose at the Gibson booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center during the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 9, 2007, in Las Vegas.
A former church worker who raped and molested boys he befriended caused more harm "than a sadistic stranger on the street," said a judge who Friday sentenced the man to a minimum of 40 years in prison.

Christopher Reardon, 29, pleaded guilty to 75 counts, including rape, indecent assault and battery on a child and disseminating pornography in what prosecutors said was the state's worst case of sex abuse. Reardon met the boys while working at a church, as a YMCA instructor and a scout leader.

"I am not sentencing you, Mr. Reardon, today to make you an example to others," Salem Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein said. "I am sentencing you for your conduct."

"It is clear to me that unless you are in jail for most of your life, there is a serious risk to other people," he said.

Reardon's defense claimed he could be rehabilitated and had asked the judge for a 10 to 15-year sentencing, with treatment.

Victims and their families asked the judge to keep him behind bars for life.

If Reardon had been given a life sentence, he would have been eligible for parole in 15 years.

A woman who had been sitting among relatives of the victims was clutching an old newspaper photograph of a smiling Reardon as she left the courtroom. "He's not smiling now, is he?" she said.

Several members of Reardon's family sat impassively as the verdict was read, though his sister cried softly.

Borenstein sentenced Reardon to a minimum of 40, and not more than 50 years in prison for eight counts of rape of a child. The sentences on the remaining counts are to be served concurrently. He was given just over a year of credit for time already served.

Prosecutors had recommended 50 to 75 years.

Reardon stared forward as the judge explained the factors that went into his decision, including how Reardon abused his authority in his workplaces — "places meant to be places of safety, reflection, fun and recreation and healthy growth for these boys."

The judge rejected Reardon's excuses that the boys initiated the conduct, that he was trying to educate them about sex, or that it was his wife's fault for refusing to consummate their marriage.

"Mr. Reardon, I've got to tell you that a truthful individual as some have called you does not use his jobs to create a secret world of sexual abuse," Borenstein said.

Reardon's home town of Middleton, about 20 miles north of Boston, was stunned and sickened as details of his case emerged. Police confiscated at least two dozen pornographic videos, photographs of nude children, inflatable dolls and sex toys from Reardon's home and church office.

They also found a videotape of Reardon masturbating with a boy in the church rectory, and Reardon's then-wife discovered dozens of pages of charts and computerized spreadsheets filled with meticulous notes and descriptions of boys and how Reardon allegedly assaulted them.

"All of the evidence shows you to be a person obsessed with having and obtaining sexual gatification from young boys, and I'm persuaded you present a very serious risk to other young boys in the future," said Borenstein, who later told Reardon he wished him no harm in prison.

During a two-day sentencing hearing earlier this week, victims and family members asked Borenstein for the maximum sentence.

"Chris, you ruined my life," one child said simply "You deserve the worst."

The judge said he considered some of the good parts of Reardon's life, such as work he had done with the Red Cross and a fire department, as well as his education and his family.

But he said the harsh facts of his crimes far outweighed any of those factors. And he also rejected the testimony of the three expert witnesses who "minimized" the acts.

"The crimes you have committed are a serious violations of the bodies, the minds and of the spirits of these people, the most vulnerable members of our society," the judge told Reardon, who betrayed no emotion.

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