Alleged repeat felony offense implicates harsher penalties

Although there is a separation of church and state in this country, any individual that commits an unlawful sexual offense can be held accountable. Unfortunately, the media scandal surrounding allegations of a sex crime often overshadow that actual outcome in the criminal trial. Even if not found guilty, an accused may face repercussions in his or her personal and professional life.

The newsworthiness of child pornography crimes, in particular, is illustrated in the recent arbitration ruling involving a Midwestern Roman Catholic diocese. The religious entity is accused of failing to timely report the alleged sex crimes of a priest.

Unfortunately, it’s not the first time that scandal has rocked the diocese. The instant arbitration involved allegations that the diocese had breached the terms of a previous $10 million settlement with several alleged abuse victims. In addition to the payment, the agreement requires the local bishop to promptly alert enforcement officials of any future incidents or complaints of child abuse.

Yet only two years later, local church officials are accused of failing to report their discovery of hundreds of images of child pornography on a priest’s laptop. The matter was referred to arbitration, and the arbitrator found against the diocese and ordered it to pay $1.1 million in damages to the alleged victims who were privy to the original settlement agreement.

In this case, the priest is also accused of taking the pornographic photographs. However, an attorney that focuses on felony offenses and/or sex crimes knows that enforcement officials, both state and federal, are stepping up their efforts to investigate child pornography downloaded on the Internet. For that reason, an accused is advised to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Source: The New York Times, “Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to Pay for Failure to Report Abuse,” Julie Bosman, June 30, 2014