Catholic Sunday school teacher pleads guilty to child porn, sexual battery charges

By Laura Peters
News Leader
February 7, 2018

William L. Kerr

STAUNTON — William L. Kerr is facing years in prison after he pleaded guilty to seven charges involving possession of child pornography and aggravated sexual battery.

Kerr, 75, appeared in Staunton Circuit Court on Tuesday afternoon. 

The Staunton man pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and six counts of aggravated sexual battery. He faces up to 125 years in prison.

Nearly 45 other charges, including forcible sodomy, possession of child pornography and aggravated sexual battery, were not prosecuted. 

According to evidence presented by Anne Reed, the chief deputy commonwealth's attorney for Staunton, between 1990 and 2004, Kerr invited several young girls ranging in ages 7 to 11 back to his Staunton home. 

"Kerr would frequently invite children over to his house," Reed said. "The defendant would get the girls alone."

But, to these children, he served as an authority figure and their Sunday school teacher at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Parish in Staunton. During Reed's stipulation, she said many of the girls were fearful to come forward and tell someone about the abuse. 

Reed said the abused children, now adults, attended St. Francis with their families.

"The defendant was trusted by her parents, who worked in the church," Reed said of one of the victims. "At the age of 9 years old, the defendant started to sexually abuse her while she was at his residence.

"She was afraid to say anything that was happening to her out of fear of hurting the defendant's wife, whom she cared for very much as well as concern of upsetting her parents," Reed continued. "It was not until several years later that she was able to disclose what had happened and seek counseling."

Many of the victim's stories were similar. Kerr would sit beside some victims in the basement of his residence and fondle them under their clothes, according to Reed.

Reed described other stories from the victims, including one who was 7 when Kerr began molesting her. According to Reed, the defendant would give her candy or toys to play what he called the "bubble game," code words for oral sex. 

During a search of Kerr's home, Staunton Police seized several computers that contained child pornography, as well as a hidden VHS tape and several photo slides of juvenile girls that Reed described as "child erotica."

Kerr's computer history also showed searches that included "little girl pee hole," "old man molesting little girl," "little girls being touched" and "little girl rubbing genitals," Reed said. 

Kerr will be sentenced at 1 p.m. May 8 in Staunton Circuit Court.

He was initially charged with molestation in April of last year and 34 child porn counts had been added by May.



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