Priest accused of disseminating child porn

*** STORY UPDATED  at 4:10 p.m. ***

A Catholic priest assigned to Saints Simon and Jude Parish in Westtown Township was charged on Thursday, Oct. 23, with multiple felony counts of sexual abuse of children for possessing and disseminating child pornography.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced the prosecution of Rev. Mark Haynes, 55, in an Oct. 24 press release.  Hogan said Haynes, who was ordained in 1985, has served as Parochial Vicar at Saints Simon and Jude since Sept. 3, 2013.

The investigation began when Chester County Detective Joe Walton, the lead investigator in the case, received. information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Walton learned that an Instagram account, a social media site that allows users to publish and share photographs, was disseminating images that included child pornography, the release said.

Rev. Mark Haynes faces multiple child-pornography charges, according to Chester County authorities.

Rev. Mark Haynes faces multiple child-pornography charges, according to Chester County authorities.

Walton traced the user name on the account — Katie — to an email account registered to the church. Initially suspecting that the account might belong to a student at the parish school, Walton interviewed the pastor at Saints Simon and Jude, who identified the user as Haynes, who resides at the parish rectory.

During a follow-up portion of the investigation, Walton also discovered that Haynes had received and posted a multitude of other images of child pornography and that he had been exchanging lewd emails with a still-to-be-identified 14-year-old girl. Haynes had been posing as a 16-year-old girl in those exchanges, the release said.

During an interview with Chester County Detectives, Haynes admitted the illicit activity and acknowledged that he “was addicted to viewing the images and videos,” the criminal complaint said.

The release said electronic devices belonging to Haynes — a computer, iPhone, iPad, and two iPods — were seized and are being reviewed. The investigation to identify the 14-year-old girl is continuing.

A statement from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia called the charges serious and disturbing. "The Archdiocese is cooperating fully with law enforcement regarding this matter and remains fervently committed to preventing child abuse as well as protecting the children and young people entrusted to its care," the statement said. "Child pornography is a scourge that must be eradicated."

According to the statement, the church had no prior indications that Haynes was involved in activity of this nature. Following Hayne's arrest, he was immediately placed on administrative leave, prohibiting him from exercising any public ministry,  and he is no longer residing at Saints Simon and Jude Parish, the statement said.

“Every person who disseminates child pornography is continuing the cycle of depravity that makes children around the world vulnerable,” Hogan said. “No matter whether you are rich or poor, young or old, clergy or layperson, the possession of child pornography will lead to arrest, shame, and jail.”

Magisterial District Justice Thomas Tartaglio set bail for Haynes on Thursday, Oct. 23, at 10 percent of $200,000, which Haynes did not post. He was transported to Chester County Prison to await a preliminary hearing on Nov. 6, court records said.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the parish have been fully cooperative with law enforcement authorities, Hogan said.

Since Hayne’s ordination in 1985, he has been assigned to eight parishes in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. They St. Ann, Phoenixville; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Doylestown; St. John of the Cross, Roslyn; Our Lady of Good Counsel, Southampton; St. Pius X, Broomall; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Morton; and Annunciation B.V.M., Havertown, according to the release.

“This investigation is ongoing. Given the number of parishes to which the defendant was assigned and his close proximity to children, we are concerned that other victims are out there,” said Hogan.

He asked anyone with information to call Chester County Detective Joseph Walton at 610-344-4625. The archdiocese said victim services are available through the Victim Assistance Office of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780 or philavac@archphila.org.

 

 

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...

About CFLive Staff

See Contributors Page http://chaddsfordlive.com/writers/

Comments

comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.