Priest's Sentence Will Stand

By Peter E. Bortner
Republican & Herald
January 3, 2008

Three state Superior Court judges have upheld the state prison sentence of an Orwigsburg Roman Catholic priest who possessed large quantities of child pornography.

The Rev. Ronald J. Yarrosh, 60, a former associate pastor of St. Ambrose Church, Schuylkill Haven, must serve four to 10 years, the three-judge panel ruled in a seven-page opinion filed Wednesday in Pottsville.

Yarrosh, who is serving his sentence at SCI/Albion, continued to possess and acquire child pornography, traveled out of Pennsylvania to meet a 7-year-old girl and drank alcohol, all of which violated both his probation and his parole, the judges wrote.

Additionally, the panel declined to consider Yarrosh's claims that both the revocation of his probation and the sentence imposed were illegal, ruling he did not properly present those issues to them.

Schuylkill County President Judge William E. Baldwin imposed the prison sentence, which consisted of two consecutive 2-to-5-year terms, on Yarrosh on Nov. 21, 2006, ruling he had violated both his probation and his parole.

Yarrosh pleaded guilty on April 27, 2005, to theft and receiving stolen property in one case, and sexual abuse of children and criminal use of a communication facility in another. Baldwin sentenced him on Aug. 8, 2005, to three to 23 months in prison, plus an additional 10 years probation.

Police said they were investigating the theft of money from St. Ambrose when they discovered child pornography in Yarrosh's quarters at the rectory. Additionally, large amounts of pornography were found at a storage shed he rented at a U-RENT-IT self-storage business on Route 309 in Hazle Township, Luzerne County, police said.

Baldwin rejected Yarrosh's request on Dec. 20, 2006, for resentencing.

While Yarrosh argued that the probation revocation was invalid because the terms he allegedly violated were imposed by probation officers instead of the court, he did not raise it before the county court or in his brief, which the panel said prevents them from considering it. Similarly, he offered no argument that the sentence was illegal, which also waives the issue, according to the panel.

Finally, the panel ruled there was more than enough evidence to support the finding that Yarrosh had committed new crimes, relating to possession and acquisition of child pornography, while on parole and probation.

President Judge Kate Ford Elliott, Judge Susan Peikes Gantman and Senior Judge Robert E. Colville comprised the panel that decided Yarrosh's appeal. The opinion does not indicate which judge wrote it.


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