NJ Priest Faces 40 Felony Child Porn Counts
By David Singleton
October 27, 2016
A Roman Catholic priest from Mahwah, New Jersey, faces 40 felony counts of possessing and disseminating child pornography after investigators say he uploaded illicit files to the internet from a Wayne County apartment he referred to as his “day off place.”
The Rev. Kevin A. Gugliotta, 54, was taken into custody as a fugitive from justice Thursday night in Toms River, New Jersey, Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards said Wednesday. He was being held in the Ocean County Jail pending extradition to Pennsylvania.
His arrest followed a three-month investigation that Edwards said involved law enforcement officials from multiple counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The Rev. Gugliotta uploaded 20 files depicting children engaged in sexual activity to internet chat rooms between July 9 and Aug. 29 from his apartment in Lehigh Township, according to the arrest affidavit prepared by Wayne County Detective Michael F. McMorrow.
Archbishop John J. Myers removed the Rev. Gugliotta from ministry and ordered him to vacate his most recent assignment at Holy Spirit Church in Union, New Jersey, immediately upon learning of the allegations earlier this month, the Archdiocese of Newark said in a statement.
The investigation began in August, when a detective in Monroe County received information that an image depicting a preteen boy with an adult male was uploaded July 9 to a chat room from a specific Internet Protocol address.
Investigators later discovered numerous other pornographic files were uploaded from the IP address, which the Monroe County detective determined was registered to a Kevin Gugliotta at the Lehigh Township apartment.
On Sept. 29, detectives from Wayne and Monroe counties, along with township police, executed a search warrant at the residence, the affidavit said. No one was home and they found no electronic devices, but a neighbor told them the occupant was a priest from a New Jersey who stayed there a few times a week.
Later the same day, investigators identified the priest as the Rev. Gugliotta and contacted him by phone at Holy Spirit. During the conversation, the Rev. Gugliotta described the apartment as his “day off place” where he goes when he has time off.
In a subsequent interview with the Rev. Gugliotta in the Holy Spirit rectory, Wayne County detectives explained how they received the child pornography complaint and conducted a search of his apartment.
The priest told the detectives he takes his laptop computer with him when he goes to the apartment, no one else has access to it and it is password-protected, the affidavit said. When detectives asked if they could examine the laptop, the Rev. Gugliotta asked to speak to an attorney.
Edwards said the Rev. Gugliotta is charged with 20 counts of possession of child pornography and 20 counts of dissemination of child pornography.
In its statement, the archdiocese said it maintained regular contact with authorities as the investigation developed.
“Father’s activities are alleged to have occurred in Pennsylvania, where he maintains a vacation home, using his personal laptop,” it said. “There are no allegations that he may have engaged in similar activities in New Jersey.”
The Rev. Gugliotta has been a priest in the archdiocese since his ordination in 1996, spokesman James Goodness said.
In an email, Barbara Dorris, outreach director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, called on Archbishop Myers to reach out to anyone who may have information or suspicions about the Rev. Gugliotta’s alleged crimes.
The Asbury Park Press reported the Rev. Gugliotta is also a nationally ranked poker player who has won hundreds of thousands of dollars playing poker over the last several years.