The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
James T Beighlie, a retired Catholic priest in Missouri, was sentenced to five years in prison on child pornography charges.
A retired 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. The 72-year-old’s arsenal of abusive material was discovered after he left nude images of himself on a church printer, officials said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Missouri said on Tuesday that Vincentian priest James T. Beighlie of St. Louis, Missouri, had 6,000 pictures containing child sexual abuse material on a computer, including child pornography and images of child erotica.
“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.
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.
That finding launched an investigation within the church. A private IT support company soon found videos of what appeared to be “minors engaging in sex acts,” the attorney’s office said. During that time, he was removed from his position, according to the Congregation of the Western Province and “placed in a monitored environment.”
The church’s attorney contacted the FBI, which then began its own investigation.
The priest pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography in October. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to five years and ordered to pay nearly $25,000. A portion of that money, $4,750, will go to one of the victims who was portrayed in the child pornography, the office said, while the remaining $22,000 will go toward other victims of crimes involving children.
In a letter to the presiding judge, one of the victims seen in the child pornography spoke out about the abuse.
“It’s depressing and sickening to know that people were looking at images and videos of my online sexual abuse when I was a little girl and that they were getting pleasure from it – my abuse,” they said.
Prior to serving at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Beighlie was on the faculty at St. Thomas Aquinas/Mercy High School and Vincent Gray Academy, both in St. Louis, and had also spent time as an associate pastor at Our Lady Queen of Peace parish in House Springs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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