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Ex-Priest Gets 15 Years in Prison for Child Pornography

By Brandon Loomis
Associated Press
January 30, 2003

Chicago - A former Roman Catholic priest who admitted in court that he molested more boys than he could remember was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography.

Vincent McCaffrey was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Darrah to 15 years on one count of possession of child pornography and 5 years on a second count, the sentences to run concurrently.

Prosecutor Markus Funk had asked for life in prison.

Funk said he will go back to court next Tuesday in an effort to persuade the judge to make the two sentences run consecutively.

"Vincent McCaffrey has an admitted history of sexual exploitation that is truly extraordinary," Funk told the judge.

McCaffrey had pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography that included hundreds of images of boys, some under 12, engaging in sexual relations, being beaten and even confined in cages.

McCaffrey has not been charged in any of the molestations, but federal prosecutors introduced them as evidence to seek a lengthy sentence.

At an earlier hearing Dec. 9, prosecutors called to the stand five victims who said McCaffrey molested them at four Chicago parishes from the late 1970s to 1990.

Funk argued that the total number of incidents in which McCaffrey had molested boys could be could be close to 1,000.

In pronouncing sentence Thursday, Darah said, McCaffrey "took from these children maybe a child's most precious attribute, innocence."

Two men described by prosecutors as among McCaffrey's victims took the stand Thursday and asked the judge to give McCaffrey a life sentence because he would always be dangerous.

A witness identified in court only as Kevin, testified about his torment. "I've just been sitting here thinking the sentence I've received and the other victims received is lifelong. I would hope that for the rest of his life he feels half the amount of pain I feel."

Defense attorney Thomas J. Royce said he thought the sentence was harsh. Royce said he objected to allowing evidence into a sentencing hearing about matters that occurred 25 years ago and for which McCaffrey was never convicted.

At the earlier hearing last month, McCaffrey first testified that he had molested at least 12 to 14 boys during his years as a priest.

But under cross-examination he acknowledged he really didn't know how many he had victimized at Chicago-area parishes because there were so many.

Funk said the molestations took place from 1977 to 1989. The 10-year statute of limitations on those incidents - violations of the state, not federal criminal code - had run out before McCaffrey's indictment.

Testimony revealed that the Chicago archdiocese learned of McCaffrey's sexual misconduct as early as 1980 but returned him to parish duties after he had undergone inpatient treatment. McCaffrey was finally removed from parish duties in 1991 due to reforms instituted by then-Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.

"I deeply regret my harm and my hurt to everyone," said McCaffrey, 50, addressing the victims in the courtroom on Dec. 9. "I promise you my prayers every day of my life for the rest of my life."

 
 

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