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  N.Y. Priest Admits Plan for Sex with Jersey 'Boy'

By Robert Rudolph
Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey)
June 17, 2000

A Roman Catholic priest who had been in line to take over as pastor of his Staten Island church admitted yesterday he attempted to arrange a sexual rendezvous in New Jersey with a 15-year-old boy he met in an Internet chat room. The boy turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

The Rev. Morgan Kuhl, 32, who was assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Staten Island, was arrested by the FBI last October after he showed up for a meeting at a Perth Amboy ballfield, only to learn that the "boy" he had been chatting with was actually a government agent.

Agents searched his car and discovered an e-mail message from the "boy" as well as several unopened condoms.

Yesterday, during a hearing in federal court in Trenton, Kuhl pleaded guilty to a charge of traveling across state lines to have sex with a minor. Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Krappa said the offense carries a potential penalty of up to 15 years in jail.

At the same time, Kuhl agreed to forfeit the car he was driving, a 1990 Mercury Cougar, his Compaq Presario computer and a Palm Pilot.

Krappa said Kuhl was nabbed as a result of an ongoing FBI sting operation code- named "Innocent Images," in which government agents pose as youngsters while policing the Internet in search of child predators.

As outlined by authorities, Kuhl used an America Online account to surf the Net under the online name "Alltwoall," using a computer located in his first-floor office in the church rectory.

After Kuhl set up the rendezvous, agents staked out the park and approached him when he arrived for the meeting, authorities said. Krappa said the priest was dressed in civilian garb when he was taken into custody.

According to court documents, it was not the first encounter for Kuhl, who allegedly had attempted a previous meeting with another unidentified New Jersey boy.

At the time of his arrest, Kuhl was the administrator of St. Mary's, in charge of running the parish. He was allegedly in line to take over as pastor at the end of the month.

Kuhl, who was ordained in 1993, has been assigned to St. Mary's since November 1998. Before that, he was assigned to another Staten Island church.

 
 

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