PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A suspended Pittsburgh priest who was caught with child porn on his computer was sentenced in federal court Wednesday.

Fr. Bartley Sorensen told the federal judge he was sorry just before being sentenced to eight years and a month in federal prison on child pornography charges.

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“I mean the people who produce this stuff, I mean, lock them up, throw the key away,” said Pat Thomassey, the defense attorney. “I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be punished, but I think that these long prison terms for people who just look at it, they’re not warranted.”

In sentencing Sorensen, Federal Judge Alan Bloch said the Catholic priest’s actions were “just as harmful and dangerous to children as if he had been abusing them himself.” The judge went on to say, “He had indeed victimized children as a result of his actions.”

Fr. Cornelius McCaully testified on Sorensen’s behalf.

KDKA’s Marty Griffin: “Do you believe he committed a crime?”

Fr. McCaully: “On yeah.”

Griffin: “A heinous crime?”

Fr. McCaully: “Yeah.”

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Griffin: “Does he need to be punished?”

Fr. McCaully: “Yeah.”

Griffin: “But not as severely… Father, I don’t want to put words in your mouth.”

Fr. McCaully: “Not as severely as that. No, I don’t think so.”

Fr. Sorensen was arrested at his Churchill parish in December of 2011. He pleaded guilty to possession of more than 5,000 images of boys as young as 4 being sexual assaulted.

In court Wednesday, Sorensen said, “I know my sin needed to be known. I did not know it was a crime. All I can say is, I’m sorry. I did not know what this addiction, this sickness would lead me to.”


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