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  Priest Charged with Child Porn
Matthew Kornacki Served in Quakertown from 1985 to 1992

By Steve Wartenberg steve.wartenberg@mcall.com
Morning Call [Pennsylvania]
May 29, 2004

One of five people indicted by a Philadelphia federal grand jury on child pornography charges Thursday is a Catholic priest who spent six-plus years at a Quakertown church.

The Rev. Matthew Kornacki, 57, is charged with one count of possessing digital images of child pornography on his computer while he lived at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Montgomery County, in July.

Kornacki served as assistant pastor of Quakertown's St. Isidore's Church from November 1985 to June 1992.

The Rev. Fred Riegler, pastor at St. Isidore's, said he has known Kornacki for years and was shocked by the charges.

"He had a great reputation as a hard-working priest and people love him," said Riegler, who came to St. Isidore's in 1998. "When he left here , I heard they had a reception and used the school gym and it was packed. That gives you an idea of how well-liked he was."

Prosecutors didn't release details of Kornacki's case, but said the images were discovered July 16.

If convicted, Kornacki faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

According to his attorney, Francis Recchuiti of Norristown, Kornacki suffered a breakdown in July.

Kornacki lives at the St. John Vianney Center, a church-run psychiatric care facility in Downingtown, Chester County.

"The feds came calling and he had a breakdown," Recchuiti said. "I'm upset over the way this has been handled. The indicts people every day and they don't send out press releases and hold press conferences."

He also called the indictment "a big to-do over nothing."

"There have been no incidents involving him over things priests have been getting a lot of publicity for doing no touching, no nothing," Recchuiti said. "He's had a long and honorable career and this is a humiliating experience for him."

Over his 31-year career as a priest, Kornacki has served in five Philadelphia and four suburban parishes, including St. Ephram's in Bensalem, Immaculate Conception in Levittown and Holy Savior in Norristown.

"He served the parish very well during the time he was here, in his help with people, his jovial, pleasant attitude, and his kind words," said longtime St. Isidore's member Francis Murray.

"He had a number of difficult assignments and he came through with flying colors," Riegler said. "He never lost his cool and was as steady as a rock I keep telling people you have to remember he's innocent until proven guilty."

Catherine Rossi, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said Kornacki was removed from active ministry when church officials were informed of the allegations in July. Rossi said in a written statement that at the time, the archdiocese had no indication Kornacki was involved with such materials.

"These charges are serious and disturbing. We offer prayers for Father Kornacki and for any child who has been used in this way," the statement says.

Kornacki is the second area priest to be charged with possessing child pornography this month.

On May 12, the Rev. Ronald J. Yarrosh, 56, an assistant pastor at St. Ambrose Church in Schuylkill Haven, was charged with 110 counts of sexual abuse of children after police allegedly found hundreds of child pornography photos, books, magazines, videotapes and DVDs while investigating whether he embezzled church funds.

The other four indictments Thursday were for three unrelated cases.

William Burnham, 43, a registered nurse and New Hope resident, was charged with multiple counts of possessing and transmitting child pornography via computer.

Chad Frank, 22, of Philadelphia, and Michelle Foisy, 20, of Langhorne, Bucks County, were charged with conspiring to make "visual depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct" and receiving and distributing child pornography.

John L. Campbell III, 26, of Mount Joy, Lancaster County, was charged with filming two minor boys involved in sexually explicit conduct and receiving more than 2,500 images of child pornography on his computer.

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