Ex-Cleric Here Charged with Possession of Child Porn

By Steve Warmbir
Chicago Sun-Times
June 15, 2002

A former Roman Catholic priest from Chicago who was removed from his church in 1991 amid allegations of sexual misconduct with children has been arrested for allegedly having reams of child pornography, authorities said Friday.

Vincent McCaffrey, 49, served as associate pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel in the McKinley Park neighborhood from 1989 to 1991, resigned from the priesthood in 1993 and now works in insurance, authorities said.

McCaffrey, now in federal custody, allegedly told investigators he uses kiddie porn "as a release," instead of having sex with boys. He will appear before a judge within several days, Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Markus Funk said.

McCaffrey has no criminal record and swore he has had no contact with boys for 15 years, but he offered no details on what happened before, authorities said.

Elissa Brown, who runs the U.S. Customs office in Chicago, said investigators are focusing on McCaffrey's past and are urging any potential victims to come forward.

A Chicago Archdiocese spokeswoman on Friday couldn't detail the allegations against McCaffrey but said they were referred to prosecutors. A Cook County state's attorney's spokeswoman couldn't confirm any referrals.

Investigators allegedly have discovered more than 4,000 images of child porn at McCaffrey's home in the 6700 block of North Artesian. They said McCaffrey had porn on CD-ROMs and hidden under his mattress.

According to news reports on McCaffrey's removal, the pastor at the time at Our Lady of Good Counsel knew of McCaffrey's problems before he came to the church, but a therapist said McCaffrey could serve.

McCaffrey was removed thanks to a commission created by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to review church policy on abusive priests.

McCaffrey was ordained in 1978 and worked at Our Lady Help of Christians in Chicago, St. Victor in Calumet City, St. Joseph the Worker in Wheeling, St. Josaphat in Chicago and Our Lady of Good Counsel.

Investigators focused on McCaffrey after New Zealand police closed down a child-porn Web site in Auckland in December. New Zealand police said they searched the financial records of the Web site owner and discovered McCaffrey's name, date of birth and e-mail address on the paid subscribers' list.


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