Lisa Biron was charged with allegedly taking a teenage girl across the border to Canada to have sex, which she …Life can be hard for people who set themselves up as arbiters of public morality. Like anyone else, they have human weaknesses but work hard to hide them to maintain their facade of righteousness.
That's especially true of the Christian right in the United States, where sex scandals seem happen as regularly as Sunday church services.
Take the latest example involving Lisa Biron, a New Hampshire lawyer who volunteered for something called the Alliance Defending Freedom. The legal advocacy group bills itself as a "servant ministry building an alliance to keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel by transforming the legal system and advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family."
Among other things, the alliance has fought against the legislative entrenchment of gay rights, including same-sex marriage, challenged protest bubble zones around abortion clinics, and backed communities trying to keep out pornography.
So imagine the shock when Biron was charged with allegedly taking a teenage girl across the border to Canada to have sex, which she videotaped and photographed.
The National Post reports the list of charges Biron, 42, faces includes seven counts of possession of child abuse images, five counts of child exploitation, one of transportation of a child to engage in criminal sexual activity and a charge of possession of child pornography.
New Hampshire's Concord Monitor reported FBI agents arrested Biron last Friday on a federal indictment as she appeared in a Manchester, N.H., court on the local child porn charges filed previously.
The Manchester lawyer was held in custody because a judge determined she had broken most of the bail conditions imposed on the district-level charges, the Monitor said.
A search of Biron's home also turned up 200 rounds of ammunition, though not the pistol she claimed she had hidden under her mattress, another bail violation.
The prosecution also alleged witnesses had seen Biron in possession of marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine.
Police began investigating Biron in September after receiving a tip from someone claiming the lawyer had child porn on her computer. She was charged initially with possessing child abuse images and the files were sent to the FBI, the Post said.
The prosecution also claims Biron sent a threatening text message to the person who tipped off police, warning he would have to watch his back "FOR EVER," the Monitor said.
The New Hampshire paper also reported Biron became a lawyer in the state and in Massachusetts in 2008, working briefly for a Manchester law firm. She was associated with the Alliance Defending Freedom and had worked with the group to defend a Concord Pentecostal Church in a tax fight with the city.
She had also served on the board of directors of Manchester's Mount Zion Christian Schools. According to the Monitor, Biron's Facebook page, recently taken down, listed the Bible as her favourite book.
Police allege that Biron took a girl in her early teens into Canada twice this year and shot four videos, as well as digital photos of sex acts. The Post said it has learned the images were taken in Niagara Falls, Ont.
In demanding Biron be held with out bail, the prosecution also alleged she victimized other juveniles, giving them drugs and engaging in sexual activity.
The allegations shocked those who'd worked with Biron.
"It was a surprise," Pastor Jim Guzofski of Destiny Christian Church in Concord told the Post. "There was no indication of anything. I was completely shocked, as I am sure a lot of people were."
Guzofski, who praised Biron's work on the church's tax case, said he wants to hear the whole story before passing judgment.
"I think I know her character from my interactions with her," said Rev. Guzofski.
The alliance, however, was quick to distance itself from Biron.
"Thousands of attorneys across the country and the globe donate their time providing free legal services in our areas of interest," spokesman Greg Scott told the Post. "However, these attorneys are neither our employees nor our agents.
"This attorney was one of those thousands. She is in private practice and has never been employed by Alliance Defending Freedom."
The American Christian right seems particularly susceptible to displays of blatant moral hypocrisy. Leaders seem to be brought low with disturbing regularity when their double lives have been exposed.
Among the most notorious was Pentacostal preacher Jimmy Swaggart, whose television ministry raked in millions. But in 1988 until he was forced to admit he'd been caught at a motel with a prostitute. "I have sinned against you, my Lord," a tearful Swaggart wailed before his congregation and TV followers. He was caught again in 1991.
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Then there was Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, husband-and-wife televangalists whose PTL (for Praise the Lord) Club was very popular until it was brought down by their love of luxury, Jim's conviction and imprisonment for fraud in the handling of donations from followers and allegations he and another minister raped 21-year-old church secretary Jessica Hahn.
More recently, Colorado pastor Ted Haggard was a rising star in the evangelical movement until allegations surfaced in 2006 that he had sex with a male prostitute and had taken methamphetamines.
Female preachers aren't immune. Pentecostal televangelist Juanita Bynum last summer admitted she had had sex with women.