|Priest Arraigned on Child Porn, Theft Charges
By Paula J. Owen
Telegram & Gazette
September 12, 2011
The Rev. Lowe B. Dongor — the Diocese of Worcester’s first Filipino priest — was arraigned in Fitchburg District Court today on charges of possessing child pornography and stealing from the parish.
Rev. Dongor, 35, of 51 Illinois St., Worcester, was released on personal recognizance by Judge Andrew L. Mandell and was ordered not to use computers and not to have unsupervised contact with children under 14.
He was summoned on Friday on charges of larceny over $250, larceny from a building and possession of child pornography after an investigation by the Worcester district attorney’s office that lasted months.
In July, Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester placed Rev. Dongor on administrative leave of absence and relieved him of his duties as associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Fitchburg and from any public ministry. At that time, the diocese announced that neither the diocese nor the parish had received any complaints about him.
In that statement made at the time, Rev. McManus said a leave of absence was needed to deal with “issues which impact Father Dongor’s ability to minister to parishioners at this time.”
His leave of absence came after state police were notified by an independent computer service that one of Rev. Dongor’s laptops contained images of child pornography.
According to court documents, the images depicted prepubescent girls around the ages of 10 and 11 in various states of undress.
The computer company said the girls were “definitely preteen” and copied the images to a “pristine thumb drive,” stopped work on the laptop and reported it to police, court documents said.
Police said the chest and genitals of the girls in the images were “prominently displayed” and “lacked any breast development and did not appear to have either body or pubic hair.”
Rev. Dongor allegedly admitted to police in an interview on July 1 that on several occasions he stole “$40 or $60” from the parish office in Fitchburg to wire home to his family in the Philippines. He also admitted to regularly visiting a subscription website that he knew contained images of child pornography.
He allegedly said this occurred from August 2010 to June 2011, while he lived at the parish in Fitchburg.
He told police he would spend 30 to 45 minutes on the website each time he visited, viewing nude images of girls who were “11 to 12 years of age,” and would also use search engines on the Internet to seek out child pornography.
Church officials told police they were aware money was missing from the parish.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.
Rev. Dongor came to Worcester in 2003 and attended Assumption College, where he explored the possibility of becoming a priest with the Augustinians of the Assumption, the order that runs the school. He later decided to become a diocesan priest and studied at St. Mary Seminary & University. He was ordained in June 2010 during services at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and St. Joseph was his first assignment.
After putting Rev. Dongor on leave in July, Bishop McManus assigned him to residency at the Holy Name of Jesus House of Studies in Worcester — a house of studies for college-age men contemplating a vocation in the priesthood. The house also serves as a residence for seminarians from Colombia studying English at Clark University.
Ray L. Delisle, spokesman for the Diocese, said Rev. Dongor then moved to another parish in Auburn and was most recently staying with another priest. He said that since his arraignment, he will stay with families or friends in the Filipino community.
“He was removed from active ministry because ‘things were not right,’?” said Mr. Delisle. “Now that he was arraigned, he has to move out of any parish and diocesan property. Rome has made the clearest statement — the church has treated child pornography the same as it has sexual abuse of minors. Anyone involved in this has to be removed from ministry.”
He referred all other questions to the DA’s office.
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