Priest Hit with Abuse Charges
Hundreds of Pornographic Images of Children Found in Rectory and Home

By Beth Braverman
The Express-Times [Pennsylvania]
May 13, 2004

A former Easton priest faces more than 100 charges of sexual abuse of children, after police say they found hundreds of child pornography images in his rectory and in his home.

Police found the pornography while investigating the embezzlement of funds from St. Ambrose Church in Schuylkill Haven, Pa., where the Rev. Ronald Yarrosh worked.

Yarrosh, 56, was transferred last June to St. Ambrose after a two-year stint at St. Bernard's Church in Easton.

"I went to the (Allentown) Diocese several weeks ago, because I was concerned about theft and pornography," said the Rev. Michael Stone of St. Ambrose Church.

On April 22, the diocese and Stone contacted state police at Schuylkill Haven, who conducted a search of Yarrosh's office, bedroom and library the following day. The search yielded an "enormous amount" of child pornography including pictures of naked boys and girls engaging in erotic poses or performing sexual acts, police said.

On April 26, police searched the rectory again as well as Yarrosh's storage unit at U-Rent-It storage facility in Hazle Township, Luzerne County, police said. The search turned up more pornographic material, police said. Police also found 256 pornographic images on Yarrosh's parish computer.

Stone said that Yarrosh's assignment at the church ended April 26, but declined to identify the reason for the termination.

"Father Stone and the diocese contacted law enforcement because they are committed to the protection of children and young people," diocese spokesman Matt Kerr said in a prepared statement. "Father Stone, St. Ambrose parish and the diocese are cooperating fully with the state police investigation."

Stone told the Reading Eagle newspaper that there is no evidence Yarrosh abused church members, but Stone had a "gut feeling" about the priest.

"I didn't assign him to the (preschool), or anything to do with children," Stone told the newspaper.

Police said the theft investigation is continuing.

Phil Janvrin, a member of the St. Bernard's Church Council, said he was shocked to learn about the allegations against Yarrosh.

"He seemed to be a regular guy as far as I knew," Janvrin said. "He was always prompt for Mass and gave wonderful sermons."

Yarrosh could not be reached for comment.

District Justice David A. Plachko of Port Carbon arraigned Yarrosh on the charges. He was released on $50,000 unsecured bail pending a preliminary hearing. In addition to the sexual abuse charges, Yarrosh is charged with criminal use of a communication facility for using the parish computer and Comcast Internet Services to download the material on the computer.

Yarrosh was accompanied at the arraignment by attorney Kurt B. Geishauser of Reading, who declined comment.

Trooper Daniel Conville, the lead investigator, said Yarrosh has been at a diocesan psychiatric facility in Downingtown, Chester County, for about two weeks, according to the Reading Eagle. Reporter Beth Braverman can be reached at 610-258-7171


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