A 55-year-old priest in Philadelphia was placed on immediate administrative leave after being arrested on child pornography charges.
According to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Father Mark J. Haynes was arrested by Chester County Police and “charged with two counts of dissemination of child pornography, two counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of criminal use of a communications device.”
“These charges are serious and disturbing,” the archdiocese said in an Oct. 24 statement.
“The Archdiocese is cooperating fully with law enforcement regarding this matter and remains fervently committed to preventing child abuse as well as protecting the children and young people entrusted to its care. Child pornography is a scourge that must be eradicated.”
The charges involve lewd photos of underage children posted to an Instagram account that was traced to the rectory of the parish where Fr. Haynes was stationed, a local Fox affiliate reported. Police said the email account was identified as being used by Fr. Haynes.
Authorities also charged that the priest had been posing as a teenage girl while sending and receiving emails with lewd content, including from at least one underage girl, according to local reports.
Ordained in 1985, Fr. Haynes had most recently been serving as parochial vicar at Sts. Simon and Jude in West Chester.
The archdiocese stated that there had been no prior indication that the priest was involved in such activity, nor had any allegations of sexual abuse of a minor been filed against him.
“Father Haynes was immediately placed on administrative leave following his arrest and is no longer residing at Saints Simon and Jude Parish in West Chester, where he was assigned,” the archdiocese said. “Priests on administrative leave are not permitted to exercise their public ministry, administer any of the Sacraments, or present themselves publicly as priests.”
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