Ex-midland Beach Pastor Will Not Face Charges in Child Porn Case, Manhattan DA Says

By Maura Grunlund
Staten Island Advance
April 8, 2016

Father Keith Fennessy said Mass in 2008 at at St. Margaret Mary R.C. Church in Midland Beach. (Staten Island Advance Photo)

A former Midland Beach pastor will not face charges from the Manhattan district attorney's office after child pornography was allegedly found on his computers.

The Rev. Keith Fennessy was barred from priestly ministry and booted from his position as pastor of St. Columba's R.C. Church in Manhattan on June 15, 2015, by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York.

An archdiocesan review board determined that Father Fennessy had images of minors on his personal and office computers that violated the church's Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Dolan accepted the board's recommendation that Father Fennessy no longer be allowed to serve as a priest, according to Catholic New York and Joseph Zwilling, communications director for the archdiocese.

The archdiocese referred Father Fennessy's case to the district attorneys' offices in both Staten Island and Manhattan. A Staten Island source with knowledge of the investigation said that the case was handled by the Manhattan district attorney's office.

"This matter was referred to our office in mid-2015," said Joan Vollero, director of communications for the Manhattan district attorney's office. "The investigation has concluded and no criminal charges were brought."

When asked why authorities on Staten Island were notified, Zwilling said, "Part of our normal protocol is to alert the DA's at previous assignments."

Father Fennessy, an ordained priest since 1984, headed St. Margaret Mary R.C. Church in Midland Beach from 2006 to June 2010. He left amid a controversy over a proposed sale of the former parish convent house to the Muslim American Society. The sale fell through to turn the convent into a mosque.

The archdiocese has not yet decided whether it will ask the Vatican to defrock Father Fennessy.

"It is still under discussion and consideration," Zwilling said. "He continues to live in a supervised setting, as he has since his removal from his assignment, while a decision is reached about whether or not he will be returned to the lay state."

"The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a comprehensive set of procedures established by the USCCB in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy," according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website. "The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse."









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