Ex-Priest Garnered No Complaints, Diocese Says
Guidance Counselor, a Former Associate Pastor, Faces Sexual Abuse, Child Pornography Counts

By Deborah Martinez
Times Union (Albany, NY)
March 7, 2002

AlbanyA former priest arrested this week on charges of sexually molesting children had no complaints filed against him when he worked in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany more than three decades ago, a diocese spokeswoman said Wednesday. William Heim, a guidance counselor at School 14 in Troy, was charged Tuesday by Albany and Rensselaer County authorities with criminal possession of child pornography and two second-degree felony counts of repeated sexual contact with a child.

State Police say they were tipped off to Heim's possible possession of child pornography months ago, before a six-week investigation led to the arrests this week. More charges could be coming, and more victims may still come forward, State Police spokeswoman Maureen Tuffey said.

"We have one case of child pornography with no victim and cases with two victims," Tuffey said. "We also got some good leads to interview more kids, former students of School 14 in Troy."

Heim, 60, has worked for the Troy school district for more than 20 years. Between 1968 and 1972, he was an associate pastor at St. Margaret Mary's off Western Avenue in Albany, where he also taught at two Catholic schools, said Chancellor Sister Kathleen Turley. She said records don't indicate why Heim left the priesthood.

The diocese recently acknowledged that it substantiated nine complaints of sexual abuse against children by priests over the past 25 years. More than half the priests involved were dismissed, while the remaining priests continue to work on a restricted basis. The diocese also disclosed it paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle claims of abuse by priests.

Tuffey said the list of child abuse victims can date back years.

"I would say when you have a child molester, they're going to look for a pool of victims," she said. "Most of these people pick jobs where they're going to come in contact with children. And I think we may not know as much on past statistics because of reporting trends in the past. We are much more educated today than, say, 10 or 20 years ago."

Heim lives with his wife in Delmar, along with at least two of his children, police said. The alleged child pornography found at his home includes computer disks filled with photographs of children involved in sexual activity, Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne said.

The case expanded to Rensselaer County once State Police investigators realized Heim's position with the Troy city school district and probed further, Clyne said. A spokesman with Rensselaer County District Attorney Ken Bruno said they just received the cases of repeated sexual contact with a child Wednesday.

Troy Superintendent Armand Reo said Heim is on paid suspension, and crisis intervention teams have been assigned to the schools Heim worked in, including School 14 and Doyle Middle School.

A meeting for parents to discuss the investigation will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at School 14.


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