Crime

Former Boston Philharmonic Orchestra adviser sentenced for child porn charges

David St. George, 75, of Arlington, was an artistic adviser for the acclaimed orchestra. He also worked for the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

A former employee of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra was sentenced in federal court for possession of child pornography, U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins announced Thursday.

David St. George, 75, of Arlington, was sentenced on Sept. 14 to five years in prison and five years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $5,100 fee plus restitution payments of $3,000 to each of the victims. He initially pleaded guilty in March. 

“Child pornography is not a victimless crime. It depicts child abuse. Plain and simple. Every single image or video of the material entails unspeakable harm and trauma inflicted upon an innocent child, and those who possess, distribute or view it not only break the law but more importantly revictimize these children with each act that sexualizes them,” Rollins said in a statement.

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The investigation into St. George traces back to 2018, when law enforcement received a tip regarding a shared secure online storage account containing child pornography, officials said. Authorities tracked the IP address for the account, which linked back to St. George’s internet connection. This storage account contained over 5,000 files of photos and videos. Many contained sexually explicit content involving children, including the depiction of an adult raping an approximately 1-year-old infant, Rollins’s office said. 

Police searched St. George’s residence in September 2018. They found thousands of files of child pornography, including the depiction of sexual assaults of children between 6 and 8 years old, officials said. 

Through records of St. George’s emails, police found that he repeatedly posted child porn despite being banned multiple times by an online service provider. As police searched his home, St. George admitted that he received and downloaded child porn from the Dark Web while concealing his identity. He also admitted to receiving and downloading child porn via email so that he could upload it to his shared secure storage account. 

“The child sexual abuse materials that St. George possessed captured the horrific abuse of children. Searches of his home and electronics revealed he possessed thousands of these images while he was employed by the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra,” Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England Matthew Millhollin said in a statement. “HSI is committed to pursuing those who possess and trade child sexual abuse material wherever they hide, even when they go to great lengths to anonymize their activity and conceal their identities.”

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In November 2018, The Boston Globe reported that St. George was a senior adviser who was well liked by students. He worked closely with conductor Benjamin Zander, who founded the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. St. George reportedly provided Zander with musical critiques during rehearsals. 

Not long after St. George’s arrest, the Globe reported, about a dozen young musicians confronted the orchestra’s leadership in a tense conversation lasting more than two hours. Five youth orchestra members told the paper that they quit following St. George’s arrest, and that their trust in the organization had been compromised. 

Associate Conductor Benjamin Vickers was released for sending students inappropriate messages in the aftermath of St. George’s arrest. Two of the students, both over 18, shared messages with the Globe that Vickers had sent them. Vickers reportedly asked a student about his sexual preferences and whether he was circumcised. The students said that they did not report the incidents to orchestra leaders because they did not feel comfortable doing so.