Chicago Church Official Claims Not to Have Seen Child Porn
By Chuck Goudie and Ross Weidner
September 21, 2016
The ABC7 I-Team has new details on how the Chicago Archdiocese handled the investigation of a priest in a child pornography case.
On the surface, this child porn scandal involves Rev. Octavio Munoz who once ran the crown jewel of the church's Hispanic priest outreach program, Casa Jesus.
Munoz was arrested in Maryland where he was undergoing church-sponsored treatment and appeared in Cook County court today on a child porn charge.
Court records raise disturbing questions about who reported the child pornography and how quickly law enforcement officials were informed.
Munoz, 40, was charged Wednesday with possession of child pornography.
Last summer, Archbishop Blase Cupich tapped Rev. Kevin Hays to replace Munoz.
On July 7, 2015 Hays and a church employee went to Casa Jesus to inspect Hays' new living quarters.
According a legal proffer filed Wednesday by Cook County prosecutors, when Hays and the church employee walked into Munoz's former apartment there was "a black Sony laptop ... there was displayed a moving image on the screen that appeared to be running from a web cam. The image was of a young boy (engaged in a sexual act.)"
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In the legal filing attached to Munoz's child porn charge, authorities state "believing that the new rector ... would address the issue, the employee did not contact additional archdiocese representatives until about a week later, when he learned that the rector had made no such report."
Archdiocese of Chicago officials said Wednesday that Hays claims to have not seen anything inappropriate on that computer.
"Shortly thereafter on July 20, 2015 the archdiocese contracted private investigators but did not yet contact law enforcement. The private investigators went to the Casa Jesus apartment and found it empty but did locate a black laptop bag for a Sony laptop and a storage area used exclusively by the defendant," Guy Lisuzzo, Cook County assistant state's attorney.
Munoz apparently claimed he no longer had the device. He turned other computers over to the private eye conducting a private forensic examination. One video was found displaying child sex.
On July 28, 2015 Archbishop Blase Cupich removed Munoz from ministry.
Hays went on to run Casa Jesus until this July when he was re-assigned to Notre Dame of Chicago on the West Side.
Hays did not respond to the I-Team questions Wednesday evening.
Nearly two weeks passed between the time child pornography was seen inside the Casa Jesus apartment and when church officials began an investigation.
Archdiocese officials insist the apparent delay was because Hays told them he hadn't seen anything so he didn't alert officials, even though the church employee he was with provided specific details to the archdiocesean office for the protection of children and youth.
It took about another ten days for the archdiocese to notify law enforcement that there was evidence of child pornography, according to court records.