Priest Pleads Guilty to Having Child Porn
Former Quakertown Cleric Faces Prison for Images on Computer

By Pervaiz Shallwani
The Morning Call [Allentown PA]
August 26, 2004

PHILADELPHIA | A Catholic priest who had served in Quakertown pleaded guilty Wednesday to having child pornography, admitting he bought a computer disc containing more than 150 images from a Web site.

During a 30-minute hearing, the Rev. Matthew Kornacki repeatedly told U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick he understood the consequences of his decision. As his father and two sisters sat quietly behind him, Kornacki told Surrick he was taking responsibility for his action.

"I know what I am doing," Kornacki said. "It's the only way I can begin to make things right."

Kornacki, 57, who was an assistant pastor at Quakertown's St. Isidore's Church from November 1985 to June 1992, has worked in nine parishes during his 31 years serving the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He was indicted in May as part of a New York child pornography sting operation.

Surrick deferred sentencing until Nov. 17 pending a presentence investigation. Kornacki faces up to 10 years in prison, a maximum $200,000 fine and three years' supervised release, but under federal sentencing guidelines he probably will get 30 to 37 months of prison time.

Kornacki has no criminal record and will remain free on $20,000 bail during the investigation.

"Every time the images are viewed, a child is exploited and abused," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenya Mann said after the hearing, adding it does not matter who is viewing them. "He just happened to be a priest."

Kornacki's attorney, Francis Recchuiti of Norristown, said his client did not know the images were still on his computer.

"This is a nice man," Recchuiti said. "It is unfortunate. This is the kind of case that attracts the media attention because he is a Catholic priest."

Recchuiti said Kornacki has cooperated with authorities and should get a reduced sentence.

The archdiocese released a statement Wednesday reiterating that it removed Kornacki from active ministry after Secret Service agents found the images on his computer on July 16, 2003 . The computer was also confiscated as part of the guilty plea.

The archdiocese, which is facing lawsuits alleging sexual abuse at the hands of former priests, said it has cooperated "fully with authorities regarding this serious and disturbing matter."

Kornacki, a Philadelphia native, has been getting psychiatric treatment at St. John Vianney Center, a church-run treatment facility in Downingtown, Chester County.