Priest Gets Four Years in Porn Case
Man Admitted He Downloaded Videos

By Jill Bryce
Daily Gazette
June 10, 2008

ALBANY — A priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, who served at a Troy parish after he was ordained in 1985, was sentenced in federal court on Monday to four years in prison for possession of child pornography.

Raymond Ethier, 51, of Hudson, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy. He also was ordered to serve a 10-year term of supervised release.

The judge also ordered that Ethier have no unsupervised contact with minors, that he participate in a sex offender program and register with the New York State Sex Offender Registry.

His computer equipment was turned over to the government.

"In the Catholic church you are always a priest, [but] today he was permanently removed from ministry by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard," said diocese spokesman Kenneth Goldfarb.

Goldfarb said the diocese had never received a complaint about Ethier prior to or after his arrest.

Either was arrested on May 30, 2007, and the diocese put him on administrative leave. He was not allowed to perform services or present himself as a priest, said Goldfarb.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said that Ethier's computer was taken from his Hudson residence on May 10, 2007, and it had 21 computer videos and a number of still images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Ethier downloaded multiple copies of the same seven computer videos that showed videos and still images depicting individuals under 18 engaged in sexual conduct. Many of the movies and images depicted prepubescent minors.

A forensic examination of Ethier's computer also showed he had obtained videos and images from an online file-sharing program called "Limewire."

He knew the videos showed minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and he obtained them from outside New York, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Spina.

When he was interviewed by police on May 10, 2007, Ethier admitted he had downloaded computer videos containing child pornography to his Dell computer approximately 10 months before, authorities said.

He said the videos depict teen and preteen boys performing sexual acts and that his laptop computer contained nude images of children.

He was reinterviewed on May 29, 2007 and said he downloaded the images and saved the computer videos and still images depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit activity that were found on his computer.

According to court documents, the investigation began when police learned Ethier had conversations online with someone who was distributing pornography.

In the conversations, Ethier said he was "sexually abusing his 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son."

"When approached by law enforcement, Either admitted 'camming' with a 16-year-old boy, while he was 'stimming' and the minor was masturbating." "Stimming" is jargon for self-stimulating.

He also engaged in Internet conversations with other individuals who had an interest in "family nudity" and there were children involved in the sexual fantasies.

"Other records indicate that Ethier's sexual fantasy behavior includes persistent sexual curiosity and interest in incestuous themes and viewing minors in sexual poses or activity," according to the sentencing memo prepared by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In a statement released on Monday, Hubbard said that as a result of the conclusion of the judicial proceedings involving Ethier, he was permanently removed from ministry and placed in treatment.

"Possession of child pornography is a crime. It violates Diocesan policy and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and is inimical to the standard of conduct expected of a priest of the Albany Diocese," the statement said.

"Possession of pornography, though sometimes regarded as victimless, is, in fact, a form of sexual abuse in that it supports an industry that victimizes children and adults by robbing them of human dignity for the gratification of others," Hubbard said.

"As we condemn the activity, we pray that Father Ethier will find healing and peace and we pray for his family and friends. We pray, too, for all those who have been exploited by the child pornography industry and for a reawakening of concern and respect for human dignity throughout our culture."

When he was arrested, Ethier was employed by the Albany Catholic Diocese as a pastor at the St. John Vianney Parish in Columbia County.

He was serving the communities in Philmont and West Taghkanic. The two parishes merged a couple years ago.

Ethier was ordained in 1985 and served at Our Lady of Victory in Troy shortly after he was ordained.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Albany and the state police Livingston station.


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