A priest from the St. Louis Archdiocese has been sentenced to a 37-month prison term after pleading guilty to several Internet sex crimes. The man, age 37, admitted on Aug. 30 that he had stored child pornography on his computer. He further confessed to sending graphic sexual images to a minor boy. Investigators reported finding 20 images of child pornography on the man's computer, along with several pictures of male genitals.

The defendant was sentenced immediately, a relatively unusual occurrence. In general, criminal defendants go through a plea hearing and then a subsequent sentencing hearing.

Official reports show that the man blames his actions on alcoholism. The priest said he would not have committed the crimes if he did not depend upon alcohol. The man is now enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous, which he can likely continue during his stint in the federal penitentiary. He has pledged to work on his personal faith and morality during his time in prison.

The Catholic church has stopped paying the man since he pleaded guilty. Now, his case will be forwarded to Vatican officials to determine whether the man should be effectively removed from his position as a priest. The man has been on administrative leave from his post at St. Cecilia Parish on Louisiana Ave. since June 2011, when the sex offense allegations first surfaced. The man had been under fire for receiving and distributing inappropriate material through Internet channels.

Parents in the parish are reportedly furious about the man's actions, but they were pleased at the length of his sentence. Despite the feelings of the parishioners, the man still received a fair legal proceeding. He was given the opportunity to enter a guilty plea, and it appears that he will get the help he needs to cure his substance abuse problems during the prison term. Defendants in the American judicial system deserve an unbiased proceeding, no matter which charges they face.

Source:  www.stltoday.com, "Ballwin priest sentenced to 3 years for child pornography" Tim Townsend, Aug. 30, 2013