Madelyn Daley
Attorney at Law

US Local 618-509-9724

Belleville Diocese priest charged with child porn crimes

The announcement of criminal charges against members of the Roman Catholic clergy are no longer surprising, but such charges still stimulate feelings of shock and disappointment. The recent lodging of criminal charges against an associate priest in the Belleville Diocese will undoubtedly cause much consternation among his parishioners.

Police began their investigation into the priest, who serves the Holy Childhood of Jesus Parish, St. Pancratius Parish and St. Liborius Parish, after they received an online tip. They began an online investigation and surveillance of the priest. The police also obtained a search warrant and executed it at the Holy Childhood Rectory. In searching the rectory, police allegedly found a number of electronic devices and several pornographic images of children allegedly younger than 13.

Police also say that they recovered less than 5 grams of methamphetamine. Police did not indicate whether they believe the priest created the images or whether he had any inappropriate contact with children. The priest was arrested and charged with 8 counts of possession of child pornography, 8 counts of dissemination of child pornography and one count of possession of methamphetamine. The Diocese issued a statement in which it acknowledged that charges represent a "serious matter" for the priest but declined to comment further.

This case is complicated by the fact that the priest is known to have suddenly taken a leave of absence from another parish in 2011 to address "very serious personal, pastoral and legal challenges." The exact nature of these challenges and the method of their resolution was not revealed. At the time, the priest blamed his difficulties on medication he was taking to combat depression.

The charges in this case could have a serious impact on the priest's life and work. Anyone facing similar charges may wish to seek the advice of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney regarding the nature of the charges and the availability of various defenses.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Metro East Catholic priest charged in child porn case after cyber tip to police," Erin Heffernan, Jan. 10, 2018

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