Retired NY priest busted in huge child porn case

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96-year-old Monsignor Harry Byrne faces dozens of counts of possessing sexual material involving a child, after the retired priest and one-time senior official of the Archdiocese of New York showed his collection of child pornography to others at a retirement home for priests.

On Tuesday, prosecutors said Byrne allegedly had dozens of photos of girls, some as young as 8, unclothed or involved in sexually explicit content. Byrne allegedly viewed the images where other individuals at the St. John Vianney Center for Retired Priests could see them.

Byrne, who lives at the home, reportedly “subjected” others to the offensive material “when they entered his room,” Bronx D.A. Darcel Clark said in a statement.

Monsignor Harry Byrne “had dozens of photographs on his computer of girls eight to 14-years-old performing sex acts with men or posing naked,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.

The former priest, who was the chancellor of the archdiocese from 1968-1970, faces four years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him. He faces 37 charges of possessing a sexual performance by a child and another 37 of possessing an obscene sexual performance of a child.

“Monsignor Byrne has dedicated 72 years to charity and church with an unsullied history. He was ordained in 1945. It is difficult to imagine that at the age of 96+, this stellar member of the priesthood knowingly understood and is responsible for the content of the subject on a computer accessible to numerous people,” his attorney said in a statement.

However the illegal images were found in a forensic sweep of the priest’s computer, officials said. Byrne allegedly used internet search engines to locate the pornography online.

As noted by the New York Daily News, Byrne denounced the way the Catholic Church handles pedophilia in the church in a July 2010 blog post.

“Bishops … quietly reassigned miscreants and thereby exponentially multiplied the number of victims,” he wrote. “In the U.S., not one cover-up bishop has been been arraigned before church authorities for his part in the scandal.”

Byrne reportedly remained outspoken on church issues following his retirement. His attorney said Byrne is currently being cared for in a medical facility.

 

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