Priest Pleads Guilty to Storing Child Porn on Computer

Associated Press, carried in Boston Globe [New Bedford MA]
September 27, 2005

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. --A New Bedford priest has pleaded guilty to storing hundreds of images of child pornography on a computer and tricking a 16-year-old into filming himself performing a sex act.

The Rev. Stephen A. Fernandes, 55, entered the plea on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography and posing a child in a state of nudity during a hearing at New Bedford Superior Court on Monday. Judge Robert Kane said he needed to review the case further before sentencing Fernandes.

Prosecutors asked for a three-year prison sentence, but Kane said his sentence would be lighter than prosecutors requested.

Fernandes has been suspended as pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church. Fernandes is still technically a priest, but is not allowed to act as a representative of the church, according to a spokesman for the diocese.

Assistant District Attorney Joan Fund said Fernandes had about 650 pictures and 114 videos of children engaging in sex acts. She also said that he used an instant messaging service to pretend he was a 19-year-old woman and coerced a 16-year-old boy to film himself performing a sex act.

The pornographic images were discovered after Fernandes sent his laptop computer to DEG Associates, a computer servicing company in Fall River, complaining it was running slowly and could have had a virus.

DEG technicians notified the Fall River Diocese after they discovered the movies and pictures. The diocese passed the case to the district attorney. Fernandes was arrested last November.


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