Missouri priest faces child pornography charges

In almost every state in the United States, child-related sex crimes are considered some of the most egregious of criminal charges. This is because children are vulnerable. Society stops at nothing to protect the young kids. In fact, no matter whom you are or what you do, authorities will not be lenient when presented with such charges.

For example, federal prosecutors in Missouri are currently after a 50-year sentence for a Roman Catholic priest who admitted to taking pornographic photos of children. Generally, priests are considered the pillars of many communities. They often hold the respect of members of the associated church. However, even if a person is of high status in the community, he or she can face very serious criminal charges.

The priest was charged in May 2011 after authorities obtained a flash drive of his computer, which contained several images of children, with particular attention to their crotch areas. Most of the children had clothes on in the photographs. Prosecutors in the case allege that the man took pictures of girls in and around the churches where he worked (Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph).

In mid September 2013, the priest will confront the sentencing process of his case in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City. The 47-year-old man admitted to several counts of "producing or attempting to produce child pornography." One count was allotted to each victim.

Penalties for child pornography

Missouri law notes that child pornography is essentially "obscene material or performance depicting sexual conduct, sexual contact or a sexual performance," which involves a person under the age of age 18. Those facing charges can be convicted of a Class B felony, which could land a person up to 15 years behind bars. When the child of the crime is lower than 14, however, the conviction is typically deemed a felony (Class A). This has a maximum penalty of life in prison.

It is crucial to understand that a suspect does not have to actually produce the sexualized pictures in order to be slapped with charges for child pornography. Possession, alone, can be considered a crime under the law. In addition to time behind bars, those charged with child pornography may have to place his or her name on a sex registry list. The list informs the public of potential sexual predators in the area. If one's name is on the list, this could create very serious social ramifications, which could interfere with employment and other life opportunities.

If you face charges for child pornography or sexual exploitation of a minor, take the time to speak with a qualified criminal law lawyer. It does not matter who you are; you need experienced legal assistance as you combat such charges.