Pastor of St. Ann's Roman Catholic church charged in sex abuse investigation
By Laurie Mason Schroeder, Matt Coughlin And Pamela Lehman
September 13, 2016
|Rev. Msgr. John Mraz is charged with possession of child pornography and selling obscene materials, according to Lehigh County Court records.|
EMMAUS — The pastor of St. Ann's Catholic Church in Emmaus is charged with possession of child pornography in a warrant filed Tuesday morning in district court.
Monsignor John Stephen Mraz, 66, of Emmaus is charged by Lehigh County detectives with one felony count of possession of child pornography, one felony count of criminal use of a communication facility and a misdemeanor count of selling obscene materials. The charges list July 25 as the date of the offenses.
Mraz was arraigned Tuesday morning and is free on $50,000 unsecured bail, court records state.
Parishoners said Mraz has been out about a month from St. Ann's Church with what officials said were "medical issues" and they had been asked at weekly Masses to say prayers for his recovery.
According to court records:
A parishioner worked on a laptop computer owned by Mraz and saw a folder titled "small boy nudes." Police said the parishioner gave the laptop computer back to Mraz, but was upset and reported it to the diocese. The diocese then contacted the district attorney's office.
Authorities said they searched Mraz's computer and found multiple images of boys under age 18 being sexually abused.
The district attorney's office plans to announce the results of a sex abuse investigation related to allegations involving child pornography against a Roman Catholic priest during a 10:30 a.m. news conference in the county courthouse.
Mraz was previously the pastor at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Northampton until his appointment to St. Ann's in 2008. Records indicate that Mraz was placed in the diocese department of education in 1994 and a resident priest at the Church of St. Thomas More in Allentown.
He also serves the diocese in the office for ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.
Check back for updates.