Strongsville Priest Facing Child Pornography Charges in Two Counties Pleads Not Guilty
By Cory Shaffer
Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer
January 22, 2020
|Robert McWilliams arraigned in Chardon Municipal Court.|
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Strongsville Catholic priest pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Cuyahoga County court to a 21-count indictment that charged him with possessing child pornography.
The Rev. Robert McWilliams, who is also charged with possessing child pornography in Geauga County, made his first court appearance since a grand jury last week handed up the indictment.
Common Pleas Court Judge Shannon Gallagher continued McWilliams’ original bond of 10 percent of $50,000.
McWilliams is also under a $150,000 bond that a Chardon Municipal Court judge set at his first appearance in that courtroom on Jan. 8. McWilliams will have to post that bond in order to be released from custody.
McWilliams has been in jail since his Dec. 5 arrest at St. Joseph Church. Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task raided McWilliams’ living space at the church’s rectory on a search warrant that originated in Geauga County.
Authorities in Geauga County believe McWilliams was using a second cellphone number to contact children he knew so he could pretend to be someone else, and was using extortion to get the children to send him nude photographs, prosecutors said.
Officers during the search seized electronic devices including a cellphone, iPad and laptop associated with McWilliams. Investigators discovered additional images of child pornography that were not related to the Geauga County investigation, and charged McWilliams in Cuyahoga County, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Carl Sullivan said.
McWilliams’ attorney Robert Dixon, successfully petitioned the 8th District Court of Appeals to get mcWilliams’ original bond lowered to 10 percent of $50,000. Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department staff held McWilliams in jail for five days after his mother posted bond. County officials have yet to provide a reason for the delay.