|Catholic Priest Timchak Faces Child Pornography Charges
By Rory Sweeney
October 20, 2009
Previously serving churches in Luzerne County, clergyman is arraigned in Pike County.
The Rev. Robert Timchak turned himself in on Monday to face 19 criminal charges in connection with possessing child pornography.
Timchak, 43, was arraigned before a district judge in Milford, Pike County, and released without bail on his own recognizance to await his Nov. 4 preliminary hearing.
According to a release from state police at Dunmore, Timchak, a Catholic priest, was charged with 17 felony counts of sexual abuse of children and single charges of criminal use of a communication facility and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.
The investigation began on Dec. 17, when the Pike County District Attorney’s Office received correspondence from the Diocese of Scranton referencing an anonymous letter the diocese had received, according to the police release. The diocese’s letter noted that the anonymous letter contained explicit photographs of and comments on young males who were possibly underage.
The evidence had reportedly been retrieved by tracing the name “booker1441” on two video Web sites, youtube.com and xtube.com, according to the anonymous letter. That letter also contained the cover of a bulletin from the St. John Neumann and Good Shepherd churches in Pike County that listed Timchak’s e-mail address as: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The diocese released a statement on the matter: “The Diocese is saddened by the situation regarding Father Robert M. Timchak. These charges are distressing and would be very unfortunate if proven true,” it read. “All employees of the Diocese, including priests, must obtain criminal background and child abuse history clearances. Father Timchak received these clearances. The Diocese had no indication that he had ever engaged in any improper conduct.”
The diocese received the information on Dec. 9, according to the release. It added that law-enforcement officials were notified when Timchak was granted a leave of absence from his most recent assignment as assistant pastor of St. John Neumann, Lords Valley, and St. Vincent de Paul, Milford, to seek medical attention outside the diocese.
Timchak, who once worked as a county probation officer while he was taking a leave from the priesthood, is also a former Times Leader faith columnist.
“The Diocese is completely committed to ensuring that no employee or volunteer is engaging in any improper conduct,” the released stated. “At this difficult time, Cardinal Justin Rigali, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Scranton, asks for prayers for Father Timchak, his family and friends.”
Timchak allowed officers to search a desktop and a laptop computer, but the investigation found that Timchak had attempted to delete graphics files, said police, adding that photos of nude or partially clothed, underage males were found.
Photos of the adolescents were forwarded to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who recognized them as two series known to law enforcement as “Brad & Bry” and “Jesse,” police said
Timchak’s history as a priest
According to Diocese of Scranton records:
June 27, 1992: Father Timchak was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Scranton.
1992-94: Assistant Pastor, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Wilkes-Barre.
1994-96: Director of Religious Formation, Seton Catholic High School, Pittston; in residence at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Pittston.1996-98: Director of Religious Formation, Bishop Hoban High School, Wilkes-Barre; and Assistant Pastor, Holy Saviour Parish, Wilkes-Barre.
1998-2000: Assistant Pastor, Annunciation Parish, Williamsport.
2000-06: Pastor, Transfiguration Parish, West Hazleton, and SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Hazleton. Also Chaplain, Bishop Hafey Jr./Sr. High School, Hazleton, 2005-06.
2006-07: Leave of Absence. During this period, he worked in the Luzerne County Probation Office.
2007-April 2009: Assistant Pastor, St. Vincent de Paul, Milford, and St. John Neumann, Lords Valley. Also, he was an occasional substitute teacher in area elementary schools.
April 2009-present: Leave of Absence.
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