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Vincentian priest sentenced to five years in prison for possession of child pornography

Father James Beighlie, CM, was removed from ministry at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in May 2021

Father James Beighlie, CM, a former associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis, was sentenced Jan. 10 to five years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp also ordered Father Beighlie to pay $4,750 in restitution to one of the victims portrayed in the child pornography and $22,000 in special assessments that will go toward “other victims of crimes involving children,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. After his release from prison, he will be on supervised release for life.

Beighlie pleaded guilty to the two counts on Oct. 12 after federal law enforcement brought charges on Nov. 29, 2021.

The Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) launched an investigation and removed Father Beighlie from ministry in May 2021 after his colleagues found “compromising” images of him on a church printer. After a private IT support company found what appeared to be child sexual abuse material on his computer, the province notified the FBI.

Law enforcement officials found more than 6,200 images and 40 videos of child sexual abuse material in Beighlie’s possession. There was evidence of possession since at least 2008, Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Lang said.

Prior to his assignment at St. Vincent de Paul Parish from July 2019 to May 2021, Father Beighlie served at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in House Springs from June 2009 to June 2019. He was on the faculty at St. Thomas Aquinas/Mercy High School in St. Louis from June 1993 to June 2008 and at Vincent Gray Academy in East St. Louis the following academic year. He served as chaplain at DePaul Hospital in St. Louis from June 1980 to June 1993. He was ordained a priest in 1979.

He most recently was living at Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer.

The Congregation of the Mission has cooperated with law enforcement throughout the process and encourages anyone with additional information to come forward, Western Province provincial superior Father Patrick McDevitt, CM, said in a news release.

“Exploitation of children through pornography is a grave sin and has no place in society,” Father McDevitt said.

The Congregation of the Mission Western Province maintains ongoing accreditation from Praesidium, an organization that establishes protocols and best practices to safeguard children from abuse in programs and organizations. Anyone with information about abuse by a member of the province is encouraged to contact the victim assistance coordinator at (314) 313-0780.

The archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection serves persons who bring forward allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy or by lay employees or volunteers of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. When reporting abuse, please contact the appropriate civil authorities before contacting the office. To report past abuse, contact Sandra Price, executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection, at (314) 792-7704.

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