Ex-Lourdes priest admits to receiving child porn, sentencing date set
By Traci Rosenbaum
Great Falls Tribune
April 8, 2019
|Fr. Lothar "Lou" Krauth, a retired Catholic priest assigned to Great Falls' Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church from 1989 to 2014, has been accused of possessing child pornography. Krauth is shown here in a photo from July of 1994.|
A former Our Lady of Lourdes priest changed his plea to guilty Monday morning on one count of receipt of child pornography.
Lothar Konrad Krauth, 81, voluntarily changed his plea to guilty without a plea agreement in place.
Krauth was first accused in November 2018 after Homeland Security Investigations Great Falls received a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTip identifying a Great Falls IP address as uploading an image of a nude prepubescent male child.
United States District Judge Brian Morris questioned Krauth at Monday’s hearing to establish that Krauth understood the rights he was giving up by changing his plea and verifying that Krauth’s decision was not a result of coercion, drugs or alcohol.
“I’m here to change my plea from not guilty to guilty,” Krauth told the judge.
Born in Germany, Krauth became an American citizen in 1986.
Krauth testified that he first moved to the U.S. in 1978 to work at Blessed Sacrament Church in Black Eagle. He also worked at parishes in Glasgow and Poplar before settling in Great Falls in 1989 as a priest for Our Lady of Lourdes, where he worked for 25 years before retiring in 2014.
The prosecution stated it would offer as proof that Krauth knowingly received and viewed “thousands of images” of prepubescent children engaged in sexual activity, including thumbnail images of children as young as 2 or 3 years old.
Krauth’s attorney, Anthony Gallagher, argued that Krauth never intended to view images of toddlers, only of prepubescent children.
“I searched and received images of individuals under the age of 18 engaged in sexual activity,” Krauth testified, adding that it all began with searches for nudity of any kind, then progressed to the viewing of images he knew were illegal.
Krauth was ordered to participate in a Pre-Sentence Investigation with U.S. Probation and Parole prior to his sentencing hearing, which was set for 10 a.m. Thursday, July 18.
According to Morris, Krauth faces a mandatory minimum of five to 20 years in prison and five years to life of supervised release and may be fined up to $250,000.
Krauth was not in custody prior to his change of plea hearing, and Morris ordered that he remain on conditional release pending sentencing.