Phila. Priest Pleads Not Guilty to Kid-Porn Rap

By Jim Smith
Philadelphia Daily News
May 28, 2004

A priest for 31 years, Matthew Kornacki has served in five city and four suburban Roman Catholic parishes.

In recent years, he taught other veteran priests at the archdiocese's seminary.

Yesterday, a lawyer escorted him into a federal courtroom in Philadelphia where, dressed in casual clothing, he pleaded not-guilty to charges that he possessed images of child pornography on his laptop computer while living and working at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary last year.

Kornacki, who turned 57 earlier this month and who now lives in a church-run center for priests in need of psychological counseling, was removed from "active ministry" last July, a church spokesperson said.

His removal from ministry came soon after Secret Service agents took his laptop from him.

James "Butch" Borasi, agent in charge of the Secret Service's Philadelphia office, said Kornacki's arrest stemmed from an "ongoing" investigation by a task force in New York.

Authorities declined to say how many kiddie-porn images had been found on his computer, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenya Mann did say there was no evidence that Kornacki had shared the images with others.

Calling the charges against Kornacki "serious and disturbing," church spokeswoman Catherine L. Rossi said prayers were being offered for him "and for any child who has been used" by others to make pornography.

Norristown attorney Francis Recchuiti, who represents Kornacki, said, "This is a big sting operation over a very small, innocuous event."

"I hope the government is spending as much time and energy and money protecting our innocent kids who are using the Internet for research from these porno blobs that come flashing across the screen," Recchuiti said.

"They are humiliating this man unnecessarily. They indicted him and then sent out a press release."

U.S. Magistrate Thomas J. Rueter yesterday released Kornacki on $20,000 unsecured bond to await trial.

The judge said Kornacki could visit his father and sister in New Jersey, but otherwise must stay in eastern Pennsylvania pending trial.

During this period, Kornacki is to have "no unsupervised visits with children" and is barred from using a computer, the judge added.

Ordained in 1973, Kornacki assisted pastors at five city parishes, including Good Shepard, Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Martin of Tours, Transfiguration and St. Barbara's.

He also had been stationed at St. Ephrem's in Bensalem, Holy Savior in Norristown, St. Isidore's in Quakertown and Immaculate Conception, in Levittown.

His last duties were as the assistant director of the Department of Continuing Formation for diocesan priests and as director of spiritual-year programs at the seminary.

If convicted, he faced a prison term in the three- to four-year range under estimated sentencing guidelines.



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