Judge issues $150,000 bond for Strongsville priest facing new child porn charges

January 7, 2020

[with video]

CHARDON, Ohio — A Strongsville priest who is already facing charges stemming from a child pornography investigation in Cuyahoga County was arraigned on new charges in Geauga County Wednesday morning.

Rev. Bob McWilliams, 39, faces charges of pandering obscenities on accusations he solicited photos from a minor. He was transferred to the Geauga County Jail after posting bail for similar charges in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court last week.

Prosecutors on Wednesday requested a $150,000 bond, which Judge Terri Stupica ordered. 

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 15.

The investigation started with allegations the priest sent an inappropriate text to a teenager at St. Helen’s Church in Newbury, where McWilliams led the church’s youth program.

In the text exchange, McWilliams posed online as a teen girl and asked a teen boy to send him photos, authorities said.

Once Geauga County officials learned of the texts, they obtained a search warrant for electronics belonging to McWilliams, including a laptop, iPad and cell phone.

The search unfolded Dec. 5 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville, where McWilliams resided.

Authorities said the search by deputies and agents with the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children task force uncovered what prosecutors said was a "substantial" number of pornographic images and videos depicting children.

McWilliams was arrested outside the church rectory on a charge of pandering obscenities. 

McWilliams worked as a parochial vicar at St. Joseph's. He was ordained as a priest in 2017.


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