A Catholic priest from Kansas City has pleaded guilty to charges of felony child pornography possession, according to courtroom documents. The man, 46, decided to confess to his crimes just a few days before he was slated to appear at a court trial. He pleaded guilty to several counts of creating child pornography, along with a count of attempting to produce pornography with children as young as 2-years-old.

The man had taken close-up pictures of children's genitals using his cellphone and a still camera. The incidents occurred between 2005 and 2009, according to the man's statements. He said the photographs were taken in a number of locations, including some within the church building itself.

The man faces hefty jail time in connection with the pornography production charges and will serve between 15 and 30 years for each of the four counts. Prosecutors have said that they will drop some ancillary charges associated with the case, but they will not bargain for a reduced sentence. Instead, they intend to pursue a sentence that effectively amounts to a life sentence, which will prevent the man from interacting with children ever again.

The man presumably pled guilty upon advice from his legal counsel. Although going to trial may have provided him with a chance of exoneration, it appears that prosecutors had a wealth of evidence stacked against the man, including statements from other church leaders. It may not intuitively make sense to plead guilty to avoid only a few smaller charges, but if the man's chances at trial seemed dismal, he made the right decision.

Although he remains in custody, the man has not yet been sentenced. Prosecutors say they are seeking such severe penalties because the priest violated the trust of his religious community.

Source: Kansas City Star, "KC priest pleads guilty to child porn charges," Bill Draper, Aug. 2, 2012