Retired priest, 96, who slammed Catholic Church for mishandling pedophilia cases facing child porn charges
By Molly Crane-Newman And Larry Mcshane
New York Daily News
October 31, 2017
|Monsignor Harry Byrne, 96, appears at his arraignment in Bronx Supreme Court on Oct. 31. |
|Byrne in the past has ripped the Catholic Church for its mishandling of the pedophile priest crisis.|
Photo by Jefferson Siegel
A 96-year-old priest was indicted on charges of hoarding vile photos of underage girls on his computer after folks at his Bronx retirement home spied the creepy collection.
Monsignor Harry Byrne “had dozens of photographs on his computer of girls 8 to 14 years old performing sex acts with men or posing naked,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in announcing Tuesday’s indictment.
“People at the defendant’s residence were subjected to it when they entered his room.”
Byrne, the chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York from 1968-70, was living at the St. John Vianney Center for Retired Priests in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.
He faces 37 charges of possessing a sexual performance by a child and 37 more of possessing an obscene sexual performance of a child. If convicted, Byrne could spend up to four years in prison.
The probe started five months ago, based on complaints from the home, officials said.
The Archdiocese and the retirement residence were both cooperating with the investigation, according to church spokesman Joseph Zwilling.
Bryne arrived for his arraignment in a green plaid shirt and wheelchair, and listened to the Bronx Criminal Court proceeding via his hearing aid.
His attorney insisted the accused pervy priest was innocent of all charges at the hearing before Judge Robert Neary.
“Monsignor Byrne has dedicated 72 years to charity and church with an unsullied history,” said defense lawyer Marvin Ray Raskin.
“It is difficult to imagine, at the age of 96, he knowingly understood and is responsible for the content of the subjects on the computer accessible to numerous people.”
But prosecutors charged Byrne used internet search engines to locate the pornography online. The illegal images were found in a forensic sweep of the priest’s computer by the NYPD Computer Crimes Squad, officials said.
Raskin said his client, who was released without bail, was battling a variety of health issues.
In a July 2010 blog post, Byrne railed about the Catholic Church’s horrific mishandling of the pedophile priest crisis.
“Bishops ... quietly reassigned miscreants and thereby exponentially multiplied the number of victims,” he wrote. “In the U.S., not one cover-up bishop has been been arraigned before church authorities for his part in the scandal.”
Byrne was an activist priest who worked to create affordable housing in the Bronx and Manhattan, and he remained outspoken on church issues even after his retirement.
In 1970, he became the first non-German pastor at St. Joseph’s parish in Manhattan’s Yorkville neighborhood.