Priest Admits to Acquisition of Child Porn

By Dan Herbeck
Buffalo News
June 19, 2004

The Rev. Fred D. Ingalls will pay a heavy price for looking at child pornography over the Internet.

Ingalls, 56, who was arrested at the rectory of his Varysburg church in February, took a guilty plea in federal court on Friday, admitting that he used his computer to access 144 images of children involved in various sex acts.

His conviction has already cost Ingalls the job he has held since 1974, and it is expected to result in a prison term of three to five years when he is sentenced Oct. 29 by U.S. District Judge John T. Elfvin.

The case highlights the stiff penalties faced by people who are convicted in federal court of downloading or viewing child pornography images on their computers.

While condemning Ingalls' actions, two local defense attorneys noted that the prison term he faces is longer than some of those handed down to people who actually molest children in Western New York.

"Father Fred knows it was wrong, and we're not minimizing it. But the people convicted in these cases face some very severe penalties," said the priest's attorney, Rodney O. Personius. "It's very serious conduct, but I don't think it warrants this kind of a prison term."

"You will get off easier for rape at City Court than you will for looking at pictures on your computer at federal court," added attorney Thomas J. Eoannou. The assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Ingalls, Martin J. Littlefield, said there are good reasons why the federal penalties are so heavy. "The people who put these images on the Web are memorializing attacks on children, and people who pay money to download them are making it profitable for them."

Ingalls has never been accused of molesting or having any improper contact with children. Federal agents said he used credit cards to subscribe to eight different child pornography Web sites.

Ingalls told Elfvin he agreed with the prosecutor's account of his criminal activity and declined to comment as he left court.

Ingalls served as administrator at St. Joseph Parish in Varysburg and St. Cecilia Church in Sheldon at the time of the arrest. He has since been suspended and is currently in an out-of-state counseling program, his attorney said.


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