Priest Gets 7 Years in Prison
Hospital Chaplain Admits to Having Child Pornography
By Rudolph Bush
November 1, 2006
A Roman Catholic priest and former hospital chaplain who admitted to possessing graphic videos of child pornography was sentenced Tuesday to 7 years and 3 months in federal prison.
Rev. Daniel Schulte, 54, sought a lighter sentence, in part because he spent years tending to the sick and grieving as a chaplain at St. Alexius Hospital and because he said he had been sexually abused as a child.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Scott Drury responded that, as a priest, Schulte betrayed the very people he was supposed to serve.
"Mr. Schulte is supposed to be helping people, helping people who are victims," Drury said. Instead, "the vows he took went in the garbage" as he downloaded images of boys and girls being molested, Drury said.
"He is telling the manufacturers of this filth [that] this is something there is a demand for," Drury said.
Schulte, who remains a priest but has been removed from ministry, hung his head as Drury spoke.
He addressed the court briefly, offering apologies for "my sin and my crime."
"I realize that saying I'm sorry can in no way make up for the harm I've caused, the children whose innocence I've stolen by downloading child pornography," he said.
A member of the Vincentian order, Schulte worked as a chaplain at St. Alexius Hospital in Hoffman Estates until March 2005.
That month, his superiors removed him from active ministry after an Internet service provider informed them that images of child pornography were being downloaded.
Schulte pleaded guilty in June to possessing 10 photographs and five videos of child pornography. The images were stored on his computer.
Prosecutors sought to enhance Schulte's sentence because they have not been able to access images from a password-protected disk federal agents seized from him.
Schulte has told authorities he cannot recall the password to access material on the disk but that he is almost certain it contains child pornography.
Drury suggested in court that Schulte could be keeping the password from prosecutors to spare himself further embarrassment.
"He's a priest. What's he hiding from everybody?" Drury asked.
U.S. District Judge Blanche Manning rejected the argument, saying there was no way to be certain whether Schulte honestly forgot the password or intentionally kept it from authorities.
Rev. Raymond Van Dorpe, the assistant provincial for the Vincentians' Midwest order, said his order will consult with advisers on church law to decide what steps to take next regarding Schulte's status.
"Child pornography, in whatever form it takes, is inherently evil," Van Dorpe said in a prepared statement.
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