Court Tosses Appeal Try by Priest
He Is Serving Time for Possessing Child Porn; Said Sentence Too Harsh.

By Chris Parker
The Morning Call
January 6, 2008,0,4749659.story

A Schuylkill County Catholic priest serving a four- to 10-year state prison sentence for having hundreds of child pornography images has lost his state Superior Court appeal to reduce the term, and officials say his massive collection will be destroyed.

The sentence against Ronald Yarrosh, 60, former assistant pastor at St. Ambrose Church in Schuylkill Haven, was upheld by a three-judge state Superior Court panel.

District Attorney James P. Goodman said the ruling, by President Judge Kate Ford Elliott, Robert E. Colville and Susan P. Gantman, means the county can finally obliterate the extensive collection of pornographic magazines, pictures, books and videotapes Yarrosh kept in a rented Hazleton storage bin and a vacant Jim Thorpe home.

"Obviously we're pleased with the decision," Goodman said. "We don't believe there was any error and we believe the sentence was appropriate. We had an order to destroy it, but we held off pending the appeal. Now it will be destroyed."

Yarrosh's appeal, filed last January, was based on his challenge of the legality of the revocation of his parole Nov. 3, 2006, and the trial court's sentence. Yarrosh argued that he committed no new crimes while on parole, and that his prison sentence was excessive.

But the panel of judges noted he possessed a large amount of pornography -- even adding to it while on parole -- and that he made no argument as to why his prison sentence was excessive. Yarrosh, formerly of Orwigsburg, is in Albion State Prison in Erie County.

Schuylkill County President Judge William E. Baldwin sentenced him on Nov. 21, 2006, after he violated terms of probation on convictions for possessing child pornography and embezzling money from the church. Baldwin upheld the sentence Dec. 20, 2006.

Yarrosh had admitted to violating probation by sneaking to New York City to visit the 7-year-old daughter of a prostitute to whom he had paid $600 a month for sexual favors and for adding to his pornography collection.

Yarrosh was a little more than a year into his 10-year probation when it was revoked in November 2006 and he was sentenced to four to 10 years in prison.

He was charged in 2004 with embezzling more than $23,000 from St. Ambrose Church and keeping child pornography on a church computer.

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