A Catholic priest was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday after being accused of possessing child pornography. According to officials from the US Attorney’s Office, the subject of the indictment was Father William F. Vatterott, a 36-year-old priest from St. Louis.
Vatterott was charged with one federal count of child pornography stemming from allegations that arose in 2011. According to the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Catholic priest has been on administrative leave from his position as pastor of the St. Cecilia Parish since that time.
In June 2011, two teenagers contacted the Archdiocese alleging inappropriate behavior by the Catholic priest.
Although no physical contact was reported, Father Vatterott was accused of participating in illicit electronic correspondence with the teenagers.
One of the teenagers also came forward with allegations involving underage drinking and additional inappropriate behaviors that have not been publicly disclosed at this time.
According to court documents, a subsequent investigation found the Catholic priest to be in possession at least two images featuring an unidentified nude underage male.
The photos were reportedly present on Father Vatterott’s computer sometime between June 2010 and June 2011.
If he’s found guilty, the pornography charge could land the indicted Catholic priest behind bars for up to 10 years. He could also be slapped with a hefty fine upwards of $250,000.
Following the priest’s federal grand jury indictment on Wednesday, the Archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement regarding the case. The statement reads in part:
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis has learned that Fr. William Vatterott, who had been the Pastor at St. Cecilia Parish in St. Louis and previously an Associate Pastor at Holy Infant in Ballwin, has been charged with possession of child pornography.
“Fr. Vatterott has been on administrative leave from St. Cecilia since June of 2011, when the archdiocese was made aware of these allegations. Since that time, the Archdiocese has fully cooperated with the investigation conducted by law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s office.”
Father Vatterott has not publicly commented on the charges against him. The indicted Catholic priest is scheduled to appear in federal court within the next two weeks.
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