‘No plea’ entered on Providence priest’s behalf amid child pornography charges

Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

November 15, 2021

By Joe Bukuras

A Rhode Island District Court judge on Monday entered “no plea” on behalf of Father James Jackson, FSSP, a Providence-based priest who is facing state and federal child pornography charges.

Jackson, who until recently was pastor at a parish in suburban Denver, is facing state charges consisting of possession of child pornography, transfer of child pornography, and child erotica prohibited.

Judge James Caruolo, a state judge sitting in Providence, entered “no plea” during Jackson’s arraignment Nov. 15. Speaking on background, a general operations assistant at the court told CNA that “no plea” in Jackson’s case is a formality.

Jackson, wearing lay clothes consisting of a collared shirt, jacket, and Khaki pants, did not speak during the proceeding, except for a handful of times when he affirmed the judge’s yes or no questions. Since his arrest, Jackson has not spoken publicly on his case. 

After the arraignment, Jackson’s lawyer, John Calcagni III, declined to speak to reporters.

Jackson, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), became pastor at St. Mary’s parish in Providence Aug. 1. Prior to that assignment, Jackson spent 15 years at the FSSP apostolate at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Littleton, Colorado.

Jackson was arrested on Oct. 30 by the Rhode Island State Police after aninvestigation by a Rhode Island computer crimes task force.

The state police had executed a search warrant that day at the parish and arrested Jackson after determining that he was the owner of large amounts of pornographic material found on an external hard drive in an office area near his bedroom, an affidavit states. 

The investigation revealed that an internet subscriber geolocated to St. Mary’s rectory shared child sexual abuse material via the peer-to-peer network on four occasions between Sept. 4 and Oct. 17, 2021, the affidavit states. 

“These image and video files depicted prepubescent females, including infants and toddlers, engaged in sexual acts,” the affidavit states.

In addition to state-level charges, federal authorities filed child pornography charges of their own against Jackson on Nov. 3. The federal charges are distributing child pornography and possessing and accessing with intent to view pornography. Both charges are punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.

The court website shows that Jackson is scheduled to appear next in state court for a 9 a.m. pre-arraignment conference on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.

Editor’s note: Since publication, the date of Jackson’s pre-arraignment conference has been updated based on information from the Rhode Island courts website. In addition, the story has been corrected to distinguish between the state and federal charges filed against Jackson.