Pittsburgh priest denies child pornography charges

PITTSBURGH Fri Jan 6, 2012 6:20pm EST

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PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - A Catholic priest pleaded not guilty on Friday to federal child pornography on suspicion of possessing thousands of images of young boys engaged in sex acts.

Rev. Bartley Sorensen, 62, former pastor of St. John Fisher Church in Churchill near Pittsburgh, arrived at his arraignment in U.S. District Court wearing hand and leg shackles and in the custody of U.S. Marshals.

He pleaded not guilty to two counts of receiving and possessing child pornography.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of receiving child pornography on a computer and up to 10 years behind bars for possession of child pornography.

After swearing to Chief Magistrate Lisa Pupo Lenihan he would return for every court appearance or pay $50,000, Sorensen left court with orders to remain under house arrest and wear an electronic anklet.

The judge also barred Sorensen from access to a computer and from any unsupervised contact with children.

Sorensen was already charged in state court for child pornography when a federal grand jury indicted him earlier this week.

An arrest affidavit said a female church worker saw him view an image on his computer of a boy, who appeared to be 5 to 10 years old and naked from the waist down, under the caption "Hottie Boys." Subsequent police searches of Sorensen's church office turned up 5,000 images, authorities said.

"I still don't understand the federal interest in this case," said Sorensen's lawyer Patrick Thomassey. "He was already arrested and processed by the state."

State charges against Sorensen have been dismissed, authorities said.

Allegheny County police arrested Sorensen on December 10 and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh removed him from active ministry and placed him on administrative leave.

He had been transferred to the post at St. John Fisher Church just three weeks before his arrest.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Daniel Trotta)

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Comments (3)
SNAPJudyJones wrote:
quoted: “I still don’t understand the federal interest in this case,” said Sorensen’s lawyer Patrick Thomassey”

Does his lawyer realize that possessing child porn is a federal crime?

If you have knowledge or have been harmed by Sorenson, please report it to the FBI, not church officials. These are serious crimes against kids and they should be investigated by the independent professionals in law enforcement. Thankfully he has been indicted by the federal grand jury. This priest needs to be kept away from kids.
Also, know that you are not alone, and there is hope, help, and a chance to protect kids.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
“Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and all clergy.

Jan 06, 2012 9:29pm EST  --  Report as abuse
timlennon wrote:
The protection of children requires the oversight of all and the awareness of all. Clerical garb is insufficient cause to dismiss this assault on children.
Report all child abuse to police and child protective agencies. The church hierarchy needs to do more to weed out the predators by disclosing all those credibly acussed.

Jan 06, 2012 10:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
snapbowie wrote:
Just another case like the one in Kansas city … one in a long string of cases where the Roman Catholic Cult will prevail

Jan 09, 2012 6:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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