Catholic Priest from Kalispell Parish Accused of Possessing Child Porn
By Tristan Scott
March 20, 2012
KALISPELL – A Catholic priest at a Kalispell parish has been charged with felony sexual abuse of children for allegedly possessing digital images of nude boys on his computer.
Rudolph "Rudy" Carl Bullman, 67, a priest at Risen Christ Parish in Kalispell, is scheduled to enter a plea on the charge at a March 29 arraignment hearing in Flathead County District Court. He remains released on his own recognizance and has been on administrative leave from the church since Dec. 16, when officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena first learned of the investigation.
"We were made aware of an investigation by the Flathead County Attorney's Office and at that time he was placed on administrative leave, which is what our policies and procedures call for," diocese spokeswoman Renee St. Martin Wizeman said.
St. Martin Wizeman said Bullman was asked to vacate the parish residence and has been living in a non-ministerial setting off of parish grounds. He has had no involvement in the ministry since the allegations surfaced and has been receiving counseling arranged by the diocese.
"We have cooperated fully with the investigation," she said. "We will see what happens going forward, but it is important to emphasize that we do have policies in place specifically for these matters."
According to charging documents filed Feb. 29 by Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan, the investigation into Bullman began last October when a woman called authorities to report that a Nintendo DS game console she'd purchased from Bullman contained photos of nude and underage boys.
On Dec. 16, a detective with the Flathead County Sheriff's Office interviewed Bullman, who admitted using the Nintendo to view gay pornography but said he only accessed websites that clearly stated the subjects of the photos were over the age of 18. Bullman said he also viewed pornography on his computer, and agreed to let the detective search the machine.
The search revealed images of young males between the ages of 12 and 18, either engaged in sexual activity or displaying their genitals, the charging document states.
When the images appeared on the computer, Bullman allegedly said, "well those aren't adults," records state. He told the detective that child pornography occasionally appears on his computer during searches of other websites, but he denied searching for or viewing child pornography.
A subsequent analysis of the computer's hard drive by the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations uncovered 23 images of child pornography stored in the Internet cache files. The agent analyzing the computer also extracted an additional 23 images from a file containing deleted JPG images.
The detective, Jeanne Parker, viewed the images and determined based on her experience that the photographs depicted children under the age of 16 in a sexually explicit nature.
Bullman, a retired Libby millworker who entered the Catholic priesthood at the age of 55, faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 if convicted of the charge.