Suspended priest pleads guilty in child porn case

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PITTSBURGH (AP) (AP)ong> - A suspended Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty Wednesday to possessing and receiving countless images of child pornography on his computer and now faces at least five years in federal prison.

Bartley Sorensen, 63, was a priest at St. John Fisher parish Churchill in December when a church employee saw him viewing a picture of a half-naked boy in his rectory office.

When she contacted a church abuse hotline, Allegheny County detectives and the FBI eventually investigated and found thousands of child pornography images on CDs, DVDs and in books in Sorensen's church residence.

“You downloaded it, you possess it,” defense attorney Pat Thomassey said. “That’s the crime. It’s simply a possession-type crime and there’s not much else. It’s very difficult to defend other than to argue jury nullification that the law doesn’t make any sense.”

A federal judge will sentence Sorensen, who has been a priest in the Pittsburgh Diocese for more than three decades, on Sept. 13.

Because he faces a mandatory minimum five-year sentence, the judge revoked his bond and turned him over to U.S. marshals.

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