Priest's Term on Vineyard Is Questioned

By Christina Silva
The Boston Globe [Massachusetts]
February 16, 2006

The Bristol district attorney, Paul F. Walsh Jr., said yesterday that it is inappropriate that a priest serving time on Martha's Vineyard after being convicted for downloading child pornography is taking a computer course in "the country club of the houses of correction," and has not been enrolled in a sex-offender treatment program.

The Rev. Stephen A. Fernandes, 55, former pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church in New Bedford, was charged with child pornography after investigators found more than 1,000 images of naked children on his computer when he sent the laptop in for repair in November 2004. According to prosecutors, Fernandes also posed as a girl in a chat room and persuaded a boy, 12, to perform sex acts in front of a webcam.

He was convicted and sentenced to less than a year at Dukes County Jail & House of Correction, a low-security facility in a converted 19th-century Vineyard home.

"To take a sex offender and send him to the country club of the houses of correction, where there is no sex offender counseling, and to let him use a computer for 12 hours a day does nothing to solve the problem," Walsh said yesterday in a telephone interview.


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