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  Fr. Brooks Receives Suspended Sentence on Pornography Charge

Catholic Herald
December 15, 2005

The Diocese of Arlington recently received a letter containing allegations of two incidents of sexual misconduct, committed 30 years ago, involving Father Robert C. Brooks, who was removed from active ministry more than a year ago. In keeping with diocesan child protection policy, civil law enforcement authorities were advised of the allegations regarding Father Brooks, and the diocese will cooperate fully with any investigation by those authorities. The diocese also will conduct its own investigation of the allegations, as required by the policy. As this investigation is in its preliminary stages, the diocese has not made any final determination as to the merit of the allegations.

Father Brooks, 73, was removed from active ministry in October 2004, immediately after Loudoun County officials informed the diocese of their intent to arrest Father Brooks on a charge of possession of child pornography. Father Brooks subsequently entered a no contest plea in October 2005 to a felony charge of attempted possession of child pornography. Authorities said he used a credit card to access a child pornography Web site in 2003, which attracted the attention of federal investigators.

Father Brooks was sentenced on Dec. 12 to two years probation and ordered to enroll in a sex offender treatment program for trying to access child pornography online. Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. sentenced Father Brooks to three years in prison, but the jail time was suspended in favor of probation after several church members spoke of Father Brooks' years of service.

In late September 2005, in anticipation of Father Brooks' sentencing, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde had prepared a letter for submission to the Loudoun County Circuit Court in which he stated that the diocese had not received any allegations of sexual misconduct by Father Brooks, other than the incident for which he was scheduled to be sentenced. While that letter was correct at that time, Bishop Loverde sent a follow-up letter to the Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney and to Father Brooks' defense counsel to advise them of the new allegations. Upon receiving the consent of the individual who made the allegations, the diocese also forwarded to them a copy of the letter containing the allegations.

The diocesan director of Child Protection and Safety and the diocesan victim assistance coordinator have reviewed the allegations, and the victim assistance coordinator has contacted the individual who made the allegations to offer assistance, as provided for in the policy.

Father Brooks last served as pastor of St. John the Apostle Church in Leesburg.

The diocese has a written child protection policy, available online at www.arlingtondiocese.org. The policy calls for mandated reporting, pastoral assistance for a person coming forward, review of allegations against clergy by a lay Review Board, and training and background checks for clergy, employees and volunteers who work with children. Bishop Loverde also has celebrated a number of Masses for the healing of those who have experienced or been affected by child abuse.

 
 

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