Suspended Berlin Priest Expected to Enter into a Plea Agreement
By Lisa Backus
New Britain Herald
May 1, 2013
A suspended Berlin priest accused of using the Internet to have inappropriate online relationships with young male parishioners is expected to enter into a plea agreement in New Britain court today.
Michael Miller, 43, was first arrested in July 2011 on charges he made inappropriate comments during conversations on Facebook with a 13-year-old boy whose family attended St. Paul’s Church, where Miller worked as a priest.
As part of the investigation, police seized several of Miller’s computers. Arrest warrants detail the results of the computer examination, which revealed that Miller was having inappropriate conversations with several teenage boys, most of whom were parishioners who met him through the church, according to police.
In the talks on Facebook, which were retrieved by the Digital Forensics Unit at the New Britain Police Department, Miller described for one 15-year-old boy the pornographic movie he was watching and said he preferred boys “because they know how the parts work.”
He also described sexual encounters with other men and told the 13-year-old that he was headed to a Berlin Turnpike hotel for sex. He was found at the hotel by officers investigating the case.
Miller is facing numerous counts of risk of injury to a child, two counts of obscenity and third-degree possession of child pornography.
Miller, who was a Franciscan Friar who had worked as a priest at St. Paul’s Church for five years, was suspended from the priesthood in 2011 when he was first arrested.
The initial allegations surrounding his activities rocked church members, who staged several worship services for Miller, his victims and the church. Officials at the Archdiocese of Hartford have repeatedly said that if Miller is found guilty he would be barred from the priesthood.
He has been free on bond since his first arrest. New Britain Superior Court Judge Hillary Strackbein said Wednesday that Miller’s court appearance was moved to today for plea proceedings.