|Fitchburg Priest Charged in Child Porn Case Flees Country
By Bronislaus B. Kush
Telegram & Gazette
October 31, 2011
The Rev. Lowe B. Dongor, the local Roman Catholic priest charged last September with possessing child pornography and stealing from his parish in Fitchburg, has fled the country and may have returned to his homeland of the Philippines.
The Diocese of Worcester cannot account for Rev. Dongor's whereabouts and Bishop Robert J. McManus has sent a letter to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines warning that the priest may have returned to the southeast Asian islands nation.
Paul Jarvey, a spokesman for District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., said a default warrant has been issued for Rev. Dongor after the priest failed to show up for an Oct. 25 hearing.
Mr. Jarvey said the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported that Rev. Dongor, the diocese's first Filipino priest, had recently been in Korea. The DA's office believes that the priest is now in Asia.
In the letter to Filipino prelates, Bishop McManus said Rev. Donger left a note saying that he would be returning “home.”
“I bring this matter to your Excellency's attention in case Father Dongor presents himself to bishops in the archdioceses of the Philippines as a priest in good canonical standing,” said Bishop McManus, in a letter to Bishop Nereo Odchimar, president of the CBCP.
In July, Bishop McManus had placed Rev. Dongor on administrative leave of absence and relieved him of his duties as associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Fitchburg.
'That action was taken after state police were notified by an independent computer service that one of Rev. Dongor's laptops contained images of child pornography. Court records showed the photographs depicted girls around the ages of 10 and 11 in various states of undress.
The priest also allegedly admitted to police that on several occasions he stole “$40 or $50” from St. Joseph's to send to his family in the Philippines.
Rev. Dongor, 35, was summoned to Fitchburg District Court on Sept. 9 on charges of larceny over $250, larceny from a building, and possession of child pornography.
He was released on personal recognizance. Officials contacted yesterday said they did not know if there were any conditions to the priest's release, such as requiring him to turn over his passport.
In a statement issued to the Telegram & Gazette, Bishop McManus said he requested that Father Donger move off church property until his case was adjudicated.
Father Dongor stayed for a time with a Worcester area family.
“Subsequently, it came to my attention that Father Dongor had left the family he was staying with in the local area,” said Bishop McManus. “Although we did not know definitely at that time if he had returned to the Philippines, we notified the local authorities that we did not know his whereabouts and also notified the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. I did that because, in the event that he presented himself as a priest in that country, I wanted it known that he was not a priest in good canonical standing.”
Rev. Donor came to Worcester in 2003 and attended Assumption College, where he explored the possibility of becoming a priest.
He later studied at St. Mary Seminary & University and was ordained a diocesan priest in June 2010.
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