Former Priest Won't Contest Child Porn Charge

Associated Press
October 6, 2005

LEESBURG, Va. — A former Roman Catholic priest pleaded no contest to felony child pornography charges, authorities said Thursday.

Robert Brooks, 72, was charged with attempting to possess child pornography after federal customs investigators allegedly found his name registered on a child pornography Web site in September 2003.

Agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement discovered evidence that he had used his credit card to pay for access to child pornography Internet sites. According to court records, Brooks allowed agents to search his computer and discovered 150 images considered to be child pornography.

The arrest was among more than 1,200 resulting from the agency's Operation Predator probe into an Internet billing company based in Minsk, Belarus, and its affiliated entities in the United States. In January 2004, the firm was charged with money laundering in connection with billing operations for 50 child pornography Web sites. The company also allegedly operated similar sites of its own.

Brooks resigned his post as pastor of St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Leesburg on Oct. 4, 2004. Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde formally removed Brooks from his ministry in February.

Brooks was ordained a priest in 1961. Besides serving as pastor at St. John, he also served at parishes in Falls Church, Annandale, Alexandria and the Richmond suburb of Highland Springs.

Church officials said there was no evidence of sexual misconduct during his nearly 44 years as a priest in Virginia.

Brooks, who entered his plea Wednesday, faces up to five years in prison at his sentencing Dec. 12.


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