Priest Arrested for Child Pornography Possession, SNAP Responds
A Catholic priest in Cleveland has been arrested for possessing child pornography and today his bond was set at $50,000. We applaud law enforcement for their work in this case, but there is still much more to do. Child pornography is a crime with many victims, many predators and a tragically long shelf life.
Rev. Robert McWilliams was arrested on church property for possessing child pornography. Now Catholic officials in the Diocese of Cleveland must immediately call upon any victims, witnesses, or whistleblowers to come forward to law enforcement with information that will aid in the investigation. Rev. McWilliams' complete work history must also be publicized and reviewed, with an eye to uncovering whether any children were victimized at any of his posts.
Catholic leadership often says that sex abuse in the Church is "in the past,” but cases like this prove otherwise. Over the past two years, law enforcement in at least 30 states have arrested or started criminal proceedings against living, working priests implicated in sex abuse, according to SNAP’s internal monitoring. This means that parishioners and the public must continue to be vigilant in order to protect children in their communities.
Child pornography is a devastating crime that can lead to a lifetime of victimization. Now it is up to Catholic officials in Cleveland to learn whether or not any parishioners were harmed by Rev. McWilliams. In addition to doing outreach to every church where Rev. McWilliams worked, we also call on Bishop Nelson Perez to release the findings of the secret grand jury investigation into his diocese. The only way to protect children is to be completely transparent.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)