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Trial for priest charged with child pornography, sex crimes

Pennsylvania readers may remember coverage of scandalous federal sex charges made against a Catholic priest. The man, now 70 years of age, has been jailed since he was charged last fall, but the case is moving forward this week with the beginning of federal jury selection. As the man prepares to defend against the charges of sex crimes and child pornography, many across the state are watching to see how the matter is resolved.

The criminal charges are the result of allegations that the priest organized mission trips to Central America with the intention of having sexual relations with homeless children in that part of the world. It is also alleged that he sent nearly $8,000 of funding to support those trips, the last of which took place in 2009. The priest was assigned to Our Lady Queen of Angels prior to being suspended when the charges first came out.

The judge in the case has ruled that an individual who is not among the three accusers will be allowed to testify. It is expected that this person, who is now a legal adult, will claim that the priest molested him as a young boy. The prosecution is also asking the court to allow an expert witness to testify about the effects that victims suffer when they are subjected to sexual abuse.

While a full defense has not yet been presented, an attorney for the priest has stated that a rival mission operation may have bribed children to make false allegations against the priest. The company is the same entity that accepted payments from the priest in relation to the mission trips. As the Pennsylvania molestation and child pornography case moves forward, that angle may be explored in more detail.

Source: startribune.com, "Federal jury selection begins for Pennsylvania priest charged with child-sex trips to Honduras", Joe Mandak, Sept. 8, 2015

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