Priest to Admit Embezzling Church, Having Child Porn
Former Schuylkill Haven Assistant Pastor Faces a Prison Term
By Chris Parker
The Morning Call [Pennsylvania]
April 21, 2005
A Schuylkill County Catholic priest charged with having hundreds of child pornography photos, books, magazines, videotapes and DVDs at his home and a rental storage unit and with embezzling church money has agreed to plead guilty.
The Rev. Ronald J. Yarrosh, 57, who was an assistant pastor at St. Ambrose Church in Schuylkill Haven and on the advisory board of the parish grade school when charged in April 2004, will enter the plea Wednesday in Schuylkill County Court, a plea agreement says.
He is to plead guilty to theft, receiving stolen property, criminal use of a communication facility and sexual abuse of children.
The plea agreement says Yarrosh will face three to 23 months in prison, followed by 20 months of parole and 10 years of probation, and must pay $6,617 in restitution to St. Ambrose Church and $17,012 to the Catholic Mutual Group, a self-insurance fund of the Catholic Church.
Yarrosh will undergo a sexual offender evaluation before being sentenced, Assistant District Attorney Karen Byrnes-Noon said.
He remains free on $50,000 unsecured bail, as he has been since his arraignment May 12. He has spent some time in a mental health program in Philadelphia, his lawyer said at a June 16 court hearing.
District Attorney Frank R. Cori said reaching the plea agreement was difficult.
"It was a disturbing decision to have to make," he said. "He was a priest in my parish."
Cori said he "maintained some distance" from the case for that reason, but approved the plea deal.
He said he believes "some jail time is appropriate" for Yarrosh's crimes, but cautioned "anything could happen" between now and the plea hearing.
Efforts Wednesday to reach Yarrosh's attorney, Emmanuel H. Dimitriou of Reading, were unsuccessful.
The Allentown Catholic Diocese relieved Yarrosh of his church and school duties April 23, 2004, when he was charged.
Police say they found the materials while investigating whether Yarrosh embezzled church money.
Besides 100 counts of sexual abuse of children, he was charged with criminal use of a communication facility for allegedly using the parish computer and Comcast Internet service to download the material.
Yarrosh had served short stints at churches in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Wilson, Reading and several Schuylkill County communities, typically staying one to three years.
Police searching Yarrosh's bedroom, library-sitting room and office at the rectory April 23 found a "voluminous" amount of pornography that included books and magazines with pictures of prepubescent children in various stages of dress, performing sex acts and in erotic poses, an affidavit says.
With a second search warrant, police seized 20 nudist colony magazines, 17 paperback books with images of nude children, and an accordion folder containing pictures of prepubescent boys and girls engaged in sex acts or erotic poses that had been printed from a computer.
Police say they also seized the parish computer's hard drive and found more than 250 images of underage children in various stages of dress and engaging in sexual acts and erotic poses. Yarrosh allegedly downloaded the material from the Internet.
Armed with additional search warrants for the rectory and a storage unit Yarrosh owned at U-Rent-It in Hazle Township, Luzerne County, police found more pornography, according to the affidavit.
The child pornography included hard-cover books and 18 computer printout photos of nude boys engaging in sexual acts or erotic poses, according to the affidavit.
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