Vatican Sentences Church Diplomat to 5 Years in Prison for Child Porn June 24, 2018

Vatican Sentences Church Diplomat to 5 Years in Prison for Child Porn

In a groundbreaking case, the Vatican just found a former Church diplomat guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography and ordered him to spend five years in prison.

A Vatican tribunal convicted Monsignor Carlo Capella, the No. 4 official working in the Vatican’s Washington embassy, after a two-day trial. We covered the case when the church arrested Capella, but we expressed skepticism due to the internal nature of the prosecution (the Vatican first denied a request to waive diplomatic immunity for Capella, which would have opened him up to charges in the United States).

Capella reportedly had between 40 and 55 photos, films, and “Japanese animation” on his cellphone, iCloud, and Tumblr.

Monsignor Carlo Capella admitted to viewing the images during what he called a period of “fragility” and interior crisis sparked by a job transfer to the Vatican embassy in Washington.

Tribunal President Giuseppe Dalla Torre read out the verdict Saturday after a two-day trial that ended with Capella appealing for a lenience sentence by saying the episode was just a “bump in the road” of a priestly vocation he loved and wanted to continue.

Dalla Torre said that Capella continued to access the material even after he had been recalled by the Vatican in August 2017.

Sorry to break it to his supporters, but viewing and distributing child porn isn’t something people do during periods of “fragility.” It’s not a “bump in the road.” It’s something that contributes to the sexual exploitation of kids, and it doesn’t really sound like Capella is taking responsibility.

Is five years enough of a punishment? The Vatican prosecutors only asked for five years and nine months, but Capella begged for leniency (despite viewing the images after evidence of his behavior was presented to authorities) and got a bit of that sentence shaved off. In the U.S., first-time child porn offenders get a minimum of 15 years in prison (and a maximum of 30).

At least the Vatican actually held one of its own accountable, even if other countries would prosecute the same crime with longer sentences. The next step will be a separate canonical trial to see if he will ever be allowed back into Church leadership.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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