Priest to Take Plea Deal in Web Porn Case
By Dan Herbeck
June 18, 2004
A priest who faces charges of receiving child pornography images over the Internet intends to take a plea deal in federal court this afternoon.
The attorney for the Rev. Fred D. Ingalls confirmed Thursday that the 56-year-old priest has reached a tentative plea agreement with federal prosecutors and is scheduled to appear today before District Judge John T. Elfvin.
"It is a felony plea arrangement. We do plan to appear with the government (today) before Judge Elfvin," said Ingalls' attorney, Rodney O. Personius.
Ingalls was arrested Feb. 26 in the rectory at St. Joseph Parish in Varysburg, following an investigation by agents from the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In the rectory, agents said they found a computer on which Ingalls had downloaded about 100 images of child pornography. Agents said they also found evidence that Ingalls had used his credit card to subscribe to eight child pornography Web sites.
Ordained in 1974, Ingalls was serving as temporary administrator at the Varysburg church at the time of his arrest. He was also serving as the administrator of St. Cecilia Church in Sheldon.
After the arrest, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo suspended Ingalls, with pay, from ministry duties and sent him to a counseling program.
If he does take a guilty plea, it is unlikely Ingalls ever could function as a priest again, diocesan officials said Thursday.
The prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin J. Littlefield, confirmed that Ingalls is scheduled to appear before Elfvin today but declined to comment further.
Authorities said the case involves Internet pornography only, adding that there have been no allegations that the priest had improper contact with children.
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