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Missouri priest sentenced to prison for 6,000 child porn images

A retired Missouri priest has been sentenced to five years in prison after it was discovered he had made slideshow presentations containing thousands of images of child pornography.

72-year old James T. Beighlie of St. Louis had 6,000 pictures containing child sexual abuse material on a computer, including child pornography and images of child erotica, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri.

“Beighlie created two PowerPoint presentations with graphic titles that linked to thousands of the images, and often visited and edited the presentations over a period of years,” the office said, adding that he had a second computer with an additional 236 images and 40 videos of similar content.

Court documents say that some of the children in the slideshows appeared to be under the age of 12 and that some of the content “portrayed sadistic or masochistic conduct.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Lang said during court that the now-retired priest revised his slideshow presentations more than 200 times. “This criminal conduct was part of his daily life,” Lang said.

Beighlie had been looking at child sex abuse material since at least 2008, Lang said, but it wasn’t until 2021 that it was found out. In May of that year when he was working as an associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis as part of the Congregation of the Mission, some of his colleagues found “compromising images” of him on a church printer. According to the facts stated in Beighlie’s guilty plea agreement, the images were that of a “nude man” and were found to have been created by Beighlie.

That finding launched an investigation within the church, which according to court documents then asked Beighlie to turn over his electronic devices that were believed to have been paid for by the congregation. Court documents say he handed over four desktop computer towers, a laptop, four external hard drives and a smartphone.

The Rev. Patrick McDevitt, provincial superior for the Congregation of the Western Province, said in at the circumstances are “very saddening,” but that “we respect the judge’s decision and have cooperated with law enforcement throughout the process.”

“Exploitation of children through pornography is a grave sin and has no place in society,” he said. The Congregation added in the statement that it is “committed to a safe environment and maintains on-going accreditation from Praesidium,” an organization that has created protocols in an attempt to prevent child abuse.

–Alan Goforth | MV

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