Priest Pleads Not Guilty in Porn Case
Church Provides Forms of Support

By Onell R. Soto
San Diego Union-Tribune
December 23, 2004

The former pastor of a Point Loma church charged with possession of child pornography has been living in a rehabilitation center at church expense since shortly after his parish office was raided, a defense lawyer said yesterday.

"He voluntarily surrendered himself to a facility in Maryland," attorney Dan Williams said in San Diego Superior Court. "The diocese is financially and emotionally supporting him."

During the hearing, the Rev. Gary Holtey, 59, pleaded not guilty to 20 misdemeanor counts. A court commissioner ordered him held in jail in lieu of $40,000 bail pending a scheduled trial Jan. 21.

It was unclear yesterday when, or if, the priest would post bail.

Each charge carries a possible sentence of a year in jail, but it's also possible Holtey could avoid jail time altogether, prosecutor Judy Taschner said.

Holtey went on leave from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church and Academy shortly after federal agents and San Diego police raided his parish office May 6.

Agents found his name among those of credit card purchasers of online child pornography, federal officials said.

Holtey resigned as pastor in late May, but is still listed as a member of the clergy on the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego's Web site.

Williams told the commissioner that Holtey moved to the treatment center in an agreement with prosecutors and police. A friend said outside court that Holtey has been there for five months and is doing well.

Taschner told Commissioner Robert C. Rice that Holtey's "sexual preference for young boys" posed a risk to the public. "Our concern is what contact he is having with minor boys," she said.

Williams told the commissioner the treatment center "is not a facility where there are any children."

He said Holtey "is in no way charged with any contact-type offenses with any youngsters, male or female."

The lawyer also said Holtey is not a flight risk. He has turned over his passport to federal officials, knew about the possibility of charges since last May, and appeared in court, Williams said.


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