Catholic priest pleads guilty to sex trafficking and possession of child porn; SNAP calls on the Diocese to do outreach

A Catholic priest from the Diocese of Cleveland pleaded guilty to the sex trafficking of a minor and child pornography. He will be sentenced in November and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. However, his victims still need to be helped. SNAP calls on the Diocese to do outreach to parishioners.

Fr. Robert D. McWilliams, 41, of Strongsville, Ohio, pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, and one count each of transportation of child pornography, receipt and distribution of visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and possession of child pornography.

We applaud law enforcement and the courts for bringing this case to a conclusion, and we hope that these survivors, along with their families, are getting the help that they need. As SNAP Board President Shaun Dougherty said, ‘they are lifelong victims now.’ It is up to Catholic officials in Cleveland to do further outreach to parishioners since we know that the priest found some of the victims at the church he attended during his time in seminary. The Diocese must do outreach to every church and facility where the priest worked, even as a seminarian, and beg victims and witnesses to report to law enforcement.

Child pornography involves the abuse of real children. It is a devastating crime that can lead to a lifetime of pain. We hope that the authorities will be able to help identify those youngsters that were so horribly exploited and make sure that they are safe.

Secular investigations have proven to be the most effective way to identify predators and their victims. They provide the best pathway to justice. We acknowledge that children and vulnerable adults are at risk every day unless we receive full cooperation, accountability, and transparency from Catholic officials. Until then, we watch these Church leaders selfishly sit on secrets about child molesting clerics that police and prosecutors could use to pursue and prosecute these criminals.

CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Shaun Dougherty,  SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386), Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

Showing 1 comment

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant