Father John Shannon on Child Porn Charges

By Gavin Engelbrecht
Northern Echo
September 16, 2010

A PRIEST has appeared in court charged with possessing child pornography.

Father John Shannon was a lecturer at the 200-year-old St Cuthbert's Seminary, also known as Ushaw College the Roman Catholic training centre for priests in the North of England.

The news comes as the Pope begins his four-day visit to the UK.

Fr Shannon has been suspended from duties since his arrest at Esh, near Durham City, three months ago.

The arrest was prompted by information passed by the seminary to Durham Police.

Fr Shannon was charged with 16 counts of making an indecent photograph of a child on or before June 16, when he was arrested.

The offences are alleged to have been committed at Esh and relate to images classed as between levels one and four in severity.

The law classifies indecent images of children from one to five, with level five being the worst. Fr Shannon was charged with a further count of possession of 763 indecent photographs of children when he appeared at Consett Magistrates' Court.

He was not asked to plead and was bailed to an address in Cambridgeshire, to return for a scheduled committal hearing next month.

Ushaw College was built in the countryside near Durham City 200 years ago. It wasfounded in Douai, France, in 1568, to train English clergy.

The seminary has trained thousands of priests and lay people.

In a joint statement, St Cuthbert's Seminary, the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, and Durham Police said: "As a result of information provided by St Cuthbert's Seminary to Durham Police, Father John Shannon, a priest of the Diocese of East Anglia, was arrested on June 16 at Esh, County Durham.

"A full investigation was immediately launched, resulting in Fr Shannon being charged with a number of offences on August 6. He appeared at Consett Magistrates' Court on August 17. Fr Shannon was suspended on June 16 and has resigned from his duties at St Cuthbert's Seminary.

"He has also been withdrawn from ministry elsewhere pending the outcome of this matter.

"St Cuthbert's Seminary is and will continue to co-operate fully with Durham Police and no further comment can be made pending the outcome of court proceedings."

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