IL --Catholic priest charged with child porn; survivors group grieves for the victims

For immediate release Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Statement by Melanie Jula Sakoda of California, Volunteer Member of SNAP’s Board of Directors (

A Catholic priest in Mascoutah, Illinois, Gerald R. Hechenberger, was charged yesterday with dissemination of child pornography. The clergyman worked at Holy Childhood Catholic Church in Mascoutah, as well as St. Pancratius in Fayetteville and St. Liborius in St. Libory. These are all Illinois parishes in the Diocese of Belleville

Child pornography is not a victimless crime. As members of the survivors group SNAP, we grieve deeply for the very real children who were hurt to produce these images.


While we are grateful that Bishop Edward K. Braxton has pledged to cooperate fully with the investigation, we are extremely disappointed that he ignored the victims. The bishop requested prayers for Father Hechenberger, but neglected to ask for prayers for those children whose images were, and probably still are, being shared on the internet.

SNAP applauds the Belleville Police for acting on the tip from Internet Crimes Against Children. Both groups are to be commended for working to protect these innocent children from further exploitation.

So far, the investigating authorities are not sure if Father Hechenberger produced any images himself or if he had any inappropriate contact with minors. However, we urge anyone with information, particularly those who know of a child who was in contact with the priest, to contact the Belleville Police Department immediately and let them do their job.

However painful it might be to learn that your son or daughter has been hurt in this way, it is only with that knowledge that you can ensure that your child does not continue to suffer alone and in silence.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 members. Our website is


Melanie Jula Sakoda (, Joelle Casteix (, or Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Executive Director (

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  • True Catholic
    commented 2018-01-15 10:34:31 -0600
    The abuse goes on and the cover up continues. Come to Cincinnati and ask about Father Jeff Bacon. Why was he removed from Holy Cross Immaculata in November 2015? Archbishop Dennis Schnurr knows, Chancellor Father Steve Angi knows, Auxiliary Bishop Binzer knows. Where has Father Bacon been the last two years? The USCCB knows, but they claim they have no enforcement over the individual Bishops or Archbishops. If you have rules and no enforcement, shouldn’t the public know? Are the rules just a cover for another purpose? How much of the Archdiocese’s money has been spent counselling victims while a criminal investigation was ongoing? How much has the Archdiocese spent on treatment for Father Bacon and the associated legal expenses? The attached article states “Hechenberger was taken into custody Monday, after investigators from the Belleville Police Department and the Illinois Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force obtained search warrants to search the rectory of the Holy Childhood Catholic Church located in Belleville”. Was anyone present besides Chancellor Father Angi and Father Jeff Bacon, when Father Bacon’s office at Holy Cross Immaculata was cleaned out?
  • Sandra Stilling Seehausen
    commented 2018-01-11 15:20:30 -0600
    There is no way the. Bishop can assure parents that their children are safe. Who all has seen this man’s porn. What about the victims in the porn material? Shameful and disturbing
  • Chris Warren
    commented 2018-01-11 14:00:04 -0600
    Now the focus needs to be shifted to Fr. McGrath from Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, IL, who is under investigation by the New Lenox Police, and also is in hiding.

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