Former Priest Found Guilty of Sex Charges

By Rocco LaDuca
March 31, 2006

UTICA — After a defrocked priest was found guilty Thursday of approaching two young teens to pose for naked pictures in Rome last summer, prosecutors emphasized how harmful child pornography can be.

James Tamburrino argued during his trial this week that he never realized how young one of the 15-year-old boys was when he took sexually explicit pictures of him, and that he only arranged to meet the other boy after police made him call Tamburrino.

After considering Tamburrino's defense of entrapment, an Oneida County Court jury felt otherwise and found Tamburrino guilty of using a child in a sexual performance, attempting to use a child in a sexual performance, possessing a sexual performance by a child and two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Tamburrino, 38, of Pillmore Drive, Rome, could face a maximum of 8 2/3 to 26 consecutive years in prison when he is sentenced by Judge Michael L. Dwyer on June 6.

Tamburrino also was previously defrocked from the Carmelite religious order in 2001 after sex-related allegations were made against him in the Bronx.

As Tamburrino listened to the jury's verdict Thursday, he clenched his eyes shut with every reading of "guilty," while his parents lowered their heads in silence. Tamburrino then shared a tearful goodbye with his mother, who uses a wheelchair, and father before he was taken into police custody.

"With Jim going to jail, that's going to have a tremendous impact on his family," Tamburrino's defense attorney, Pal Lengyel-Leahu of California, said.

But the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Dawn Catera Lupi, said the effect of child pornography reaches far beyond the lives of people who are held responsible for their exploitative crimes.

"There's a number of vulnerable kids out there who pose for a number of reasons," Lupi said. "The bottom line is that children are being exploited because there are people out there that want to see that stuff."

But, Lupi added, "Every time someone sees child pornography, you're watching that person being victimized. When you think about child pornography, that's what it really is, and that's why it's important to fight against it."

Lupi credited the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center along with the Rome and Utica police departments for their help in the investigation.

Police confiscated much of Tamburrino's camera and computer equipment during the investigation. Because child pornography often involves computer files, Child Advocacy Center Director Kevin Revere said the Utica police department's computer forensics division was important in analyzing Tamburrino's computer.

"Because of the times we're living in, there's a convergence of abusers with electronic equipment," Revere said. "We're lucky in this area that we have some law enforcement personnel that are experts in the field."


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