Deacon Imprisoned for Having Child Porn

By Mark Reiter
Toledo Blade (Ohio)
March 30, 2005

A Toledo diocesan deacon who was two days away from ordination to the priesthood when authorities seized his computer last year in a child pornography investigation was sentenced yesterday to 37 months in prison.

J. Michael Tynan, 46, who was sentenced in U.S. District Court, withdrew his petition for the priesthood June 10 after U.S. Customs agents raided his home, taking a laptop computer that contained over 600 pornographic images, including those of children.

Tynan, of Lakeview, Ohio, pleaded guilty Nov. 1 to possession of child pornography.

Judge David Katz said the viewing of child pornography is the driving force behind the industry and the exploitation of unintentional victims, who are forced to participate in sex acts.

"It is much like the war on drugs: If you eliminate the user, you will eventually get at drying up the supply," he said.

Judge Katz said he will recommend Tynan be placed in Butner Federal Correctional Institute in North Carolina, where he can participate in a sex-offender program. He is not eligible for parole. Tynan also was ordered to serve five years of supervised probation after his release from prison.

The punishment, Judge Katz said, would offer protection to the public from future crimes and provide correctional treatment while in the facility. The maximum sentence for the crime is 10 years in prison.

Tynan, who has degrees from Miami University and a branch of Ohio State University, attended Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis. He was a pastoral intern at St. Aloysius in Bowling Green from 2001 to 2002.

The Rev. Michael Billian, episcopal vicar for the Toledo diocese, said Tynan was living in a parish residence at St. Rose Church in Lima, Ohio, when agents raided the residence in June.

Bishop Leonard Blair suspended Tynan from the ministry after authorities informed diocesan officials about the investigation. Father Billian said Tynan remains an ordained deacon, but a request has been made to the Vatican to remove him from the ministry.

Before being sentenced, Tynan told Judge Katz he became addicted to online pornography and that the compulsion escalated to viewing children.

Choking back tears and pausing for a moment to regain his composure, Tynan said the worst day of his life was telling Bishop Blair he was withdrawing from the priesthood.

"I can't put into words to express how I feel because I will never be a priest and serve in a parish," he said. "I have brought shame to the diocese, my family, and my friends."

Tynan is the second diocesan official to be charged with possession of child pornography. The Rev. Stephen G. Rogers, who was a religion teacher at Central Catholic High School, was sentenced to 21 months in prison in September, 2003.

Claudia Vercellotti, leader of the Toledo chapter of Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests, said the incident for which Tynan was convicted was troubling because it occurred after the diocesan reforms on child abuse in 2002.

"He was working as an ordained deacon. This was done under the cloak of reform. This is proof positive there is a long way to go to eradicate child sexual abuse in our diocese," she said.


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