Biron Guilty on All Counts in Federal Child Pornography Trial
Manchester attorney Lisa Biron stands to face charges of possessing child pornography in Manchester District Court; Friday, October 26, 2012. (TRICIA NADOLNY / Monitor staff)
It took jurors only an hour to find Lisa Biron guilty of the heinous sex crimes described this week in federal court, where two men said she arranged for them to have intercourse with a 14-year-old girl while she filmed it.
As the verdict was read, the victim watched from the back of the courtroom, her only time in the audience during a two-day trial in which the jury and the judge were shown five videos Biron recorded of her.
In the final video, Biron filmed herself and the girl engaging in oral sex.
The 43-year-old Manchester woman — a lawyer who listed the Bible as her favorite book on Facebook before her October arrest — shook her head as the first verdict was read, finding her guilty of taking the girl to Canada with the intent to film child pornography. As the remaining seven guilty verdicts were announced — one for possessing child pornography and six for each of the videos and images she exploited the girl to produce — Biron remained still.
She will be sentenced in April.
If Judge Paul Barbadoro, who presided over the case at U.S. District Court in Concord, chooses to impose each of the mandatory minimums and run them back-to-back she could receive more than 100 years in federal prison. After the verdict, U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said only that he would be asking for a “significant” sentence. He called the jury’s swift deliberation a testament to the severity of the crime.
And he said the case, which barely stretched into two days, was uniquely clear-cut due to the videos in which the victim could not only be seen but also heard.
The prosecution called just eight people to the stand from a list of 17 potential witnesses. Their testimony, interlaced with films shown on limited screens but with audio heard throughout the courtroom, at times made jurors and others visibly uncomfortable.
Kevin Watson, the 20-year-old man Biron and the girl met in Canada in May 2012, spoke about a weekend of drinking, drug use and sex in a Niagara Falls hotel room. Biron filmed the girl losing her virginity, then turned the camera on two more times, he said. Watson said Biron, too, had sex with him that weekend.
Brandon Ore, an 18-year-old man raised in Merrimack, said he met Biron the month after that trip through an ad she placed online. She was looking, he said, for someone to party with two girls, ages 18 and 33. So Ore responded, had sex with Biron, and then began having sex with the girl at Biron’s urging, he said.
Once, she encouraged the two to have intercourse in front of her in the living room of her home, then filmed them without their knowing, he said. Prosecutors pointed out to the jury that a purity ring, signifying a commitment to remain a virgin until marriage, was on the teen’s left hand during that video. Ore testified that Biron had bought the girl the ring as a gift.
The victim’s father also took the stand Wednesday as prosecutors asked him to identify the voices on the tape they alleged showed Biron and the girl engaging in oral sex. The father put on a pair of headphones, then turned from the screen and pressed his eyes closed. He identified Biron’s voice. Then a few moments later he said the name of his daughter.
“I don’t want to listen anymore,” he said, burying his face in his hands.
After the father left, as the video was played for the jurors and judge, Biron cupped her hands around her ears and cried, the only time she appeared to respond to evidence in the trial.
That video of Biron and the teen was filmed in mid-May, a week before the trip to Canada, a forensic specialist testified yesterday morning.
Jim Moir, Biron’s lawyer, called no witnesses; she didn’t take the stand in her own defense.
Moir did argue, though, that the charges were unwarranted, not because Biron hadn’t committed crimes but because the government had indicted her for the wrong ones.
Moir said prosecutors hadn’t showed Biron intended to film child pornography when she took the girl to Canada, pointing out that Biron brought no tripod with her and captured only short clips.
“What you see here when you look at it closely is someone who appears to have been drinking, pulls out the camera and compulsively is taking some shots,” he said.
And while Watson testified that Biron had told him she planned to film the video, Moir questioned why he hadn’t said that when being interviewed by the Ontario police in November. Moir said the plan to film pornography wasn’t mentioned in thousands of text messages they exchanged before the trip. In fact, Moir argued, Watson doesn’t appear to have mentioned the intent to film pornography until Sunday, when he traveled to Concord for the trial and first met with federal prosecutors.
Moir also raised questions about the six charges of exploiting a child for the production of pornography. The charge reads specifically that Biron “did knowingly employe, use, persuade, induce, entice and coerce,” the girl to engage in the conduct.
And while Moir said prosecutors could clearly prove Biron used the girl to produce pornography, there was no evidence of how she coerced her.
The judge, debating the question with the lawyers after the jury left the courtroom, said legal precedent leans toward prosecutors only having to prove one of the elements, not all of them, for the jury to find guilt. And he stipulated that the girl’s apparent consent could not be a defense.
Once the trial had ended, Moir said he would wait until after the sentencing to consider possible appeals.
The case against Biron has moved unusually fast, from her initial arrest to a verdict in three months.
She was charged by the Manchester Police Department in October, after Ore reported that he’d seen one of the videos filmed in Canada on her computer. The investigation into the pornography’s origin was passed off to the FBI, resulting in the indictments filed against Biron in November.
Moir decided to not waive Biron’s right to a speedy trial, leading to a trial less than two months later.
Biron has been incarcerated since she was indicted federally. Wednesday, prosecutors played several conversations recorded while Biron was in jail in which she said she “dropped the ball for the last few months,” that she wasn’t the “best behaved” person.
But then, she blamed the girl.
“She had a frickin’ part in this,” Biron said. “Probably bigger than anyone else’s.”
In closing arguments, prosecutors played that clip, then asked the jury to set the record straight.