Local Priest Charged with Possession of Child Pornography

December 10, 2011

A Catholic priest was charged with viewing child pornography on a computer at his church in Churchill, police said Saturday.

According to a police affidavit, an office employee of the St. John Fisher Church called the Catholic Child Abuse Hotline after seeing the Rev. Bartley Sorensen, 62, allegedly looking at images of child pornography Friday.

Police obtained a search warrant and discovered at least 100 images of child pornography showing prepubescent males. The computer was not linked to the church's network.

Sorensen was arraigned on a third-degree felony charge in Pittsburgh Municipal Court and was ordered by District Judge Tara Smith to undergo an evaluation as well as prohibited from using any electronic equipment.

Sorensen was also ordered held on $100,000 unsecured bond.

"The viewing of pornographic images involving children is a disturbing and criminal act," said the Rev. Ronald P. Lengwin, a spokesman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. "The Diocese of Pittsburgh is cooperating to the fullest extent in the investigation of this incident."

Lengwin said that Sorensen had been removed from active ministry and placed on administrative leave.

A preliminary hearing was set for Dec. 19.


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