U.S. District Judge Jean C. Hamilton sentenced Father James P. Grady, former pastor of St. Raphael Parish in South St. Louis, to more than six years in prison June 24 after he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges.
In a statement about the sentencing, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson said that he will begin the process of removing Father Grady from the clerical state.
"Child pornography is a serious crime against the young victims who are exploited in its production," Archbishop Carlson stated. "I am deeply apologetic that one of our priests was involved in viewing this material and thus contributed to the great harm caused by this form of child abuse."
Father Grady was sentenced to 80 months in prison followed by supervised release for life. In addition, he was ordered to pay a $12,500 fine. The U.S. Attorney's Office noted that he also was charged with a forfeiture count, which will require the forfeiture of property used to facilitate the criminal activity. As part of his plea, Father Grady agreed to forfeit his car.
Father Grady pleaded guilty March 31 in federal court to one felony count of possession of child pornography. According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, forensic examiners looking at his computer found more than 100 images of females ages 7 to 17 engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The priest was arrested July 29, 2009, in connection with an undercover operation investigating subjects who attempt to purchase children or their services for commercial sex. He had responded to an Internet advertisement placed by an undercover officer, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Archbishop Carlson noted that the archdiocese continues to work with clergy, teachers, staff, coaches and volunteers to ensure the safety of the children in its care. Since 2002, more than 75,000 adults who are either employed by or volunteer in parishes and institutions have completed the archdiocese's Safe Environment Program, which requires a state background check, attendance at a Protecting God's Children workshop and compliance with the Archdiocese of St. Louis Code of Ethical Conduct for Clergy, Employees and Volunteers Working with Minors. The program is designed not only to prevent abuse, but to help recognize abuse when it may be already occurring in a child's life.
"We, as Catholics, believe in the sanctity of all human life from the moment of its inception to the moment of natural death. As archbishop, I am, therefore, committed totally to protecting God's children, and offer my deepest apologies to those who have been abused by clergy," Archbishop Carlson stated.
The archdiocese has not provided assistance to Father Grady's legal defense in this matter since the time he pleaded guilty.