Priest Gets 30-Month Term in Kiddie Porn

By Ron Goldwyn
Philadelphia Daily News
November 18, 2004

The Rev. Matthew J. Kornacki had multiple apologies to make yesterday just before he was sentenced to federal prison for possessing kiddie porn images.

Kornacki, 57, a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for 31 years, read an emotional statement expressing his sorrow and regret.

He apologized to his family, to fellow priests and to "children trapped in the web of child pornographers." He added, "I am very sorry and I am ashamed that I debased you in this way."

Kornacki pleaded guilty Aug. 25. He must surrender for prison within 30 days.

Kornacki, while living at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary last year, was charged with having a laptop full of kiddie porn, including at least 150 images of children involved in sex acts.

Kornacki stood with little emotion as U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick sentenced him to 30 months in federal prison, a $6,000 fine, and two years supervised probation upon release.

The sentence was at the low end of the sentencing guidelines, which called for 30 to 37 months in prison and which Surrick said provided him little leeway. He recommended sending Kornacki to the Butner, N.C., federal prison that contains a psychiatric wing.

Kornacki's crime did not include physical contact with any children, and there were no allegations tying him to the priest sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church.

But Kornacki himself alluded to a connection as he apologized to "my brother priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia trying to reestablish trust in the priesthood ... I know I undermined and damaged your efforts."

The judge repeated Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenya S. Mann's assertion that kiddie porn on a laptop was "certainly not a victimless crime."

Mann said 31 of the images were identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as prepubescent victims of abuse.

"Those images are a constant reminder of that abuse," she said. Prosecuting users such as Kornacki, she said, sends a message that can help dry up the market for such filth.

Kornacki came to court with a support team - his 85-year-old dad, two sisters and a brother, plus a priest and a nun. Family members stood and were introduced by defense lawyer Francis Recchuiti.

The Rev. James Gorman told Surrick, "I've known Father Matt for close to 40 years ... I am asking that the goodness and gentleness of this man be recognized by the court."

Surrick said he received "numerous" letters supporting Kornacki and that he had read every word.

Kornacki, ordained in 1973, assisted pastors at five city parishes: Good Shepherd, Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Martin of Tours, Transfiguration, and St. Barbara. He also had assignments at St. Ephrem in Bensalem, Holy Savior in Norristown, St. Isidore in Quakertown and Immaculate Conception in Levittown.

When federal agents closed in last year as part of an on-going kiddie-porn probe based in New York, Kornacki was assistant director of the Department of Continuing Formation for diocesan priests and director of spiritual-year programs at the seminary.

Kornacki quickly confessed to church officials and checked into the archdiocese's psychiatric facility.

He said he understands he "will never again function" as a priest in public ministry and will spend the rest of his life, after prison, "in a solitude and penance ... my whereabouts monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week."



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