|Former Grand Prairie Priest Pleads Not Guilty to Downloading Child Pornography
Dallas Morning News
November 25, 2008
A former Grand Prairie priest accused of downloading child pornography on a church computer in 2005 pleaded not guilty Monday in federal court.
A federal indictment filed last week accuses 39-year-old Matthew Bagert of using the Internet to download four photographs "depicting the lascivious exhibition" of a nude minor.
Mr. Bagert's attorney, Patrick McLain, expressed surprise at the charges.
"We only got the news Friday that they indicted," he said. "We hadn't heard from them in over a year.
"We're still a ways from knowing how this case is going to turn out."
Mr. Bagert was initially charged under state laws in Dallas County district court. But in 2006 the case was dismissed because a judge ruled that a fellow priest and a deacon at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church broke the law when they searched Mr. Bagert's church-owned computer without his consent.
State prosecutors at the time said they had spoken with federal prosecutors about taking over the case.
At Monday's hearing, a federal judge ruled that Mr. Bagert could remain at home while awaiting trial, though he must submit to a curfew, electronic monitoring and other conditions.
Mr. Bagert, of Richardson, told the judge he works as a manager for a company that requires him to spend most of his time out of state. His attorney expressed concern that the restrictions would affect Mr. Bagert's ability to keep the job.
Mr. McLain said his client asked and received permission from Catholic officials to be released from his obligations as a priest. He has since married, and his wife attended the hearing Monday to support him.
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