Catholic Priest Charged with Child Pornography Once Served Cranberry

By Jessica Sinichak
The Patch
December 12, 2011

The Rev. Bartley Sorensen, the Catholic priest from St. John Fisher Church in Churchill who now is jailed on charges of possession of child pornography, once served a Cranberry parish as assistant priest.

According to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Sorensen was first Parochial Vicar at St. Ferdinand Catholic Church in Cranberry from Nov. 1, 1976 to June 29, 1981.

He was arrested over the weekend after an employee at St. John Fisher saw him in the church rectory viewing a computer image of a young boy naked from the waist down. On the computer screen were the words "Hottie Boys," KDKA reports.

Once they learned of the situation, diocesan employees immediately contacted police, according to a statement from the diocese. Sorensen also was removed from active ministry and placed on administrative leave.

He now is being held in the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 19.

As of Monday afternoon, Cranberry Police have received no complaints regarding Sorensen's conduct while he served in Cranberry, department spokesman Sgt. Chuck Mascellino said. The Butler County District Attorney's office did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

St. Ferdinand officials declined comment Monday on Sorensen's time at the church, but other parishioners expressed surprise at his arrest.

Bernadette Kuszajewski, who has been a member of St. Ferdinand for more than a decade, said she was unaware Sorensen had served in Cranberry.

"I just heard about it on TV," she said. "I had no idea he was here."

Kathleen Sigmund, who has been a member of St. Ferdinand for more than 30 years but did not know Sorensen, said the charges against Sorensen would have no bearing on the Cranberry parish. She added she is extremely happy with the roster of priests at St. Ferdinand's, all of whom were assigned to the church long after Sorensen's departure.

In a statement from its spokesman the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, the Diocese of Pittsburgh asked people to keep all victims of sexual abuse in their prayers as police continue their investigation into Sorensen's actions.

"The viewing of pornographic images involving children is a disturbing and criminal act," the statement says. "The Diocese of Pittsburgh is cooperating to the fullest extent in the investigation of this incident."

The diocese also offers counseling and spiritual direction to those abused by priests or other church officials. Victims are asked to call the diocesan assistance coordinator at 412-456-3060 or toll free at 1-888-808-1235.

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