Baltimore Priest Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charge

Associated Press State & Local Wire
July 16, 2002

A Baltimore priest, arrested after a nationwide child pornography sting earlier this year, pleaded guilty Tuesday to receiving child pornography through interstate commerce.

Thomas A. Rydzewski was an associate pastor at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen before he was arrested Dec. 12 at the rectory.

An FBI search of his rectory residence and his parents' Arnold home uncovered printouts, a compact disc and photos of underage boys and girls engaged in sexual activity on the hard drive of his personal computer, according to court records.

The 35-year-old priest told U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz on Tuesday that he received child pornography in August and October last year.

The federal pornography charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 12.

The Baltimore Archdiocese did not immediately return calls Tuesday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Rydzewski has been undergoing mental health treatment at St. Luke's Institute in Silver Spring since December, when he was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond.

The child pornography sting, called "Operation Candyman" resulted in criminal charges against more than 89 people in 26 states. The effort targeted members of three Internet discussion groups on Yahoo Inc.'s Web site, including one called "Candyman," apparently named after a song in the 1971 children's movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

All three Internet groups have been shut down.


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