PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A local priest indicted on child pornography charges is facing prison time after pleading guilty Wednesday in federal court.
Fr. Bartley Sorensen was arrested in December 2011 after investigators say an employee at the church where he was assigned allegedly saw him watching child pornography.
Officials say it was that employee at St. John Fisher Parish in Churchill that alerted authorities who then seized CDs, DVDs and books and determined he possessed a lot of child pornography for a long time.
Authorities say Sorensen initially denied it to investigators, but then admitted he watched child porn involving children aged 4 to 6, but preferred depictions of boys aged 13 to 15.
“I find that to be something that is so despicable,” Bishop David Zubik, of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, said back in December. “All I can say it that it has to be an illness.”
Eventually, Sorensen was treated at St. Luke Institute in Maryland, and still undergoes psychiatric treatment.
But once he stood with his lawyer and changed his not guilty plea to guilty, Sorensen’s bond was revoked.
Judge Alan Bloch then sent him to a federal prison pending his sentencing in September.
“He’s 63-years-old. He’s been a priest for a long time. Those are issues that he has to deal with now and it’s very, very difficult,” said Patrick Thomassey, the defense attorney. “And I was disappointed that the judge revoked his bail, but he had to under the law because he’s been seeing a psychiatrist to help him through this very difficult time in his life.”
Sorensen could face a maximum of 30 years for receiving child pornography.
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