FBI Joins Investigation of Catholic Priest in Houma

State-Times/Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
January 8, 2000

MORGAN CITY - The FBI has entered an investigation of a Roman Catholic priest accused of having child pornography at his church rectory.

The Rev. Patrick Kujawa, 31, an associate pastor at Holy Cross Church in Morgan City, came under scrutiny Wednesday after church officials said the priest had downloaded pornography off the Internet. Some of it involved children.

The priest, who was relieved of his duties, has not been charged.

Kujawa is out of state, undergoing a psychological evaluation, said Louis Aguirre, spokesman for the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.

A joint investigation is being conducted by Morgan City Police and the FBI, Police Chief Steele Viccellio said.

Viccellio said his agency, working with the district attorney in St. Mary Parish, served a search warrant at the rectory Wednesday night and confiscated Kujawa's computer, hard drive, computer disks, videotapes and an 8mm camera.

Officials with the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux first learned about the materials over the holidays. They first confiscated the photos and other materials and turned them over to diocese attorneys before the attorneys turned over the evidence to authorities on Thursday.

Viccellio said his agency called the FBI on Thursday seeking an agent who specializes in Internet pornography to assist with the case. Child pornography is illegal in Louisiana and federal charges can be filed if the material came off the Internet.

Kujawa, a native of Michigan, began his career in 1995 as a priest at St. Francis de Sales in Houma. He was transferred to Holy Cross in 1997. Aguirre said new priests are routinely transferred every few years for the purpose of gaining experience.

Aguirre has said he does not think Kujawa will ever be a priest in the area again.

"Even if everything turns out OK, this diocese is too small for him to work effectively in this area. Of course, if he is found psychologically unfit to serve, he will probably never be able to serve again at all," Aguirre said.


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