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Rhode Island priest admits to federal child pornography



PROVIDENCE – A Rhode Island priest previously assigned to St. Mary’s Church in Providence, pleaded guilty in federal court in Rhode Island today to a charge of receipt of child pornography, admitting to a federal judge that he downloaded files of child sexual abuse using a peer-to-peer-file-sharing network, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

According to information presented to the court, in September 2021, an East Providence Detective assigned to the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force identified an IP address assigned to the rectory at St. Mary’s Church that was being utilized to share files of child sexual abuse material.

A court-authorized search of a computer and digital device located in a church rectory bedroom utilized by Father James Jackson was found to contain images and videos of child sexual abuse, including multiple images involving prepubescent females, some of which involved acts of bestiality and sadomasochism. A forensic audit of the devices subsequently identified over 12,000 images and 1,300 videos of child pornography.

The defendant, charged by way of a federal criminal complaint and arraigned in U.S. District Court in Providence on November 3, 2021, was later released while awaiting trial to the custody of his sister, who resides in Kansas.

In June 2022, members of the Kansas ICAC identified a computer sharing child pornography via a peer-to-peer network. Through investigation, the IP address was traced to the residence in Kansas where Father Jackson was staying. Acting on a court-authorized search warrant, members of the Kansas ICAC seized a portable computer and an external hard drive from Jacksons bedroom; an analysis of the storage device revealed evidence that numerous files with names indicative of child sexual abuse material had been deleted.

Father Jackson was returned to Rhode Island and ordered detained while awaiting trial on charges filed in U.S. District Court, charges which were brought based on the initial investigation by the Rhode Island ICAC. He pleaded guilty today in that matter to a charge of receipt of child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 11, 2023. The defendant’s sentence will be determined by a federal judge after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Kevin L. Hubbard. U.S Attorney Cunha expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Overland Park, Kansas Police Department and the Kansas ICAC.

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