Pa. Police Accuse Priest of Downloading Child Porn

By Jeff Diamant
March 18, 2005

A Pennsylvania priest who lived at a Catholic church in West Orange in December and January was charged yesterday with possession of child pornography in Monroe County, Pa.

The Rev. Virgil Bradley Tetherow, 40, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton, Pa., allegedly downloaded images of child pornography onto a computer used by a secretary at the St. Ann's Catholic Church rectory in Tobyhanna, Pa., while visiting there in January, authorities said.

Tetherow, who lived at St. Ann's for most of 2004, admitted to the allegation, according to detective Kenneth Lanning of the Pocono Mountain Regional Police in an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

Tetherow began living and working at St. Anthony of Padua Church in West Orange in December. He is a longtime friend of the new priest, the Rev. John Perricone.

Newark Archdiocese spokesman James Goodness said Tetherow requested permission from the archdiocese in December to perform sacraments at the church, as priests based outside a diocese are required to do if they want to work within another diocese's boundaries.

The archdiocese put his request on hold in late January, after Scranton church officials said they were recalling Tetherow to Pennsylvania after learning of the police investigation.

Perricone said Tetherow occasionally performed Mass at St. Anthony's when Perricone was unavailable. The parish says Mass completely in Latin.

Perricone said he has known Tetherow for several years. Both have been proponents of saying Mass in Latin, the way it was said everywhere before the Catholic Church reforms of the 1960s.

"I knew him to be an outstanding person," Perricone said yesterday. "All of us are very, very shocked (by the charges)."

The Scranton Diocese released a statement saying Tetherow had organized a now-defunct traditionalist Catholic religious community called the Servants Minor of St. Francis.

"It is gravely evil for anyone to view such images," Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino said in the statement. "That a priest would be accused of having any involvement with child pornography is completely contrary to the life he has been called to embrace."


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