St. Cloud Priest Faces 20 Counts of Child Porn
Bishop Learned of the Allegations after Reading Online Newspaper Story
By Courtney Blanchard
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
February 1, 2008
A priest who served parishes in the Morris, Minn., area was charged Wednesday with 20 counts of possessing child pornography.
The Rev. John Caskey, 53, of St. Cloud, was removed from priestly duties late Wednesday by Bishop John Kinney of the St. Cloud Diocese.
In a news release Thursday, Kinney said he learned of the charges after reading about them in the Morris Sun Tribune's online newspaper.
"I was taken by surprise by these allegations," Kinney said in the release. "I have not received any complaints in the past about Fr. Caskey from any of the parishes he has served, nor have I had any information that would cause me to be concerned."
However, Kinney also said he had learned in December that police were looking into a report that Caskey had sent someone an "inappropriate letter." According to court documents, multiple "obscene and suggestive" letters were sent anonymously to an 18-year-old male.
Kinney said that after he learned of that investigation, Caskey immediately resigned as pastor at Assumption Parish in Morris and as administrator at St. Mary's in Chokio and St. Charles in Herman, Kinney said.
In November, during the investigation into the letters, Caskey allowed police to search his home and office computers. He admitted that he sent the letter but that he "hadn't done anything like this in many years," according to the complaint.
Police found child porn, mostly featuring males, on Caskey's home computer, according to the complaint.
Stevens County Attorney Charles Glasrud said Thursday that when the images were discovered, Caskey was still a priest. "Consumers of child pornography ruin kids' lives," he said.
Caskey appeared in court Thursday afternoon and was released from custody after agreeing to certain conditions. Among those conditions: He must not have unsupervised contact with anyone under 18, must have no access to a computer and must not possess pornography, Glasrud said.
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