No Charges for Priest in Sitka Computer Incident

By Ed Ronco
January 6, 2011

SITKA, ALASKA (2011-01-06) The former pastor of the Catholic Church in Sitka will not face criminal charges in connection to questionable material found on Parish computers in November.

The Rev. Edmund Penisten was removed from his job as pastor of St. Gregory's Catholic Church in mid-November after software programs alerted church officials to possible pornographic material on computers at the Parish.

Sitka police Lt. Barry Allen says investigators at a state-run computer forensics lab did not find anything on the hard drives that would warrant criminal charges.

Officials from the Diocese of Juneau, which oversees the parish, were traveling and could not immediately be reached for comment.

But an update posted to the Diocese website says Bishop Edward Burns learned yesterday (Wednesday) that no charges would be filed, and that the diocese would continue working to determine if Penisten is suited for ministry.

Penisten was sent to a facility in the lower 48 states for evaluation, though the Diocese did not disclose where specifically. It's unclear whether he's still there.

Prior to arriving at St. Gregory's in October, Penisten worked at Holy Name Parish in Ketchikan.

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