EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 25, 2013

Man gets life in prison for child rape, pornography

Methuen 64-year-old pleads guilty to 25 counts

By Jill Harmacinski
jharmacinski@eagletribune.com

---- — SALEM, Mass. — A 64-year-old Methuen man who pleaded guilty to several counts of child rape, indecent assault and battery and related charges was sentenced to life in prison yesterday.

Judge Howard Whitehead handed down multiple life sentences, noting that John Lefebre’s urge to sexually assault a child “unfortunately ... persists right up until he dies.” A prosecutor asked Whitehead to impose a 30- to 40-year state prison sentence.

In July 2012, a 10-year-old girl told police Lefebre had raped and sexually assaulted her for four years, abuse she initially revealed to a therapist. She said Lefebre videotaped her performing sex acts on him and then forced her to watch the videos as well as other pornography. A motivation for revealing the abuse was the girl’s fear Lefebre would prey on another child.

Detectives searched Lefebre’s former Methuen home and confiscated CDs, DVDs and thumb drives containing evidence.

The girl’s father yesterday gave an eloquent and emotional impact statement in court at times crying and also looking directly at Lefebre as he spoke of the toll the “horror” took on his daughter, his marriage and his family.

“She is an incredibly brave hero,” the man said of his daughter, as family members and friends in the courtroom gallery wept. “It is our hope that John never breathes another free breath,” he continued.

Prosecutor Maureen Leal expressed similar sentiments, saying the girl’s “bravery and courage are evident.”

But, she told Whitehead, “we cannot forget the lasting impact this will have on (her).”

Lefebre pleaded guilty yesterday to eight counts of child rape, eight counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14, eight counts of posing a child in a sexual act or distribution of a child in the nude and a single count of distribution of obscene matter.

Whitehead warned him during the hearing yesterday that under the law, he could impose as many as 16 life sentences for his guilty admission to the crimes.

Lefebre sat between two defense attorneys during the hearing, at one point trying to wipe away tears while in handcuffs. He also cried on the stand as Whitehead asked him about his guilty pleas and he answered “yes.”

Life in prison was imposed for the eight counts of indecent assault and battery, sentences to be served concurrently. He was additionally sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison for rape of a child and 10 to 15 years in prison for posing a child in a sexual act. Whitehead also handed down a 4- to 5-year prison sentence on the distribution of obscene matter charge.

In a statement read by defense attorney John Andrews, Lefebre apologized for his crimes and asked for forgiveness. He said he loved his family and hoped they would forgive him. He also said he’d accepted Jesus in his life.

An alcoholic, Lefebre said he’d been sober for 12 years. He and his wife divorced due to his drinking but reconciled and were engaged when the abuse was revealed. They are no longer together, Andrews said.

The defense asked Whitehead to impose a 16- to 20-year prison sentence.

Among those in the courtroom gallery were Methuen Police Capt. Kristopher McCarthy and Detective Thomas McMenamon Jr., who investigated the case.

After court yesterday, Police Chief Joseph Solomon praised Whitehead for his decision.

“Our thoughts are with the victim and the family,” Solomon said.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.