Ohio Priest Arrested for Child Porn Now Accused of Child Prostitution February 20, 2020

Ohio Priest Arrested for Child Porn Now Accused of Child Prostitution

An Ohio priest who was previously arrested and charged with possession of child pornography has now been accused of participating in the prostitution of children.

Although details on the new allegation are scarce, we do know in general what happened. Rev. Robert McWilliams was indicted on more than 20 charges related to child porn before being arrested at St. Joseph Church. Police seized his computers and raided his living space at the church’s rectory, and found a lot more.

Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz wrote in the Friday filing that his office discovered the evidence after searching computers and other electronic devices seized from the Rev. Robert McWilliams in December, and through in-state and out-of-state interviews.

Flaiz has been in talks with U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman’s office about whether the case against the Rev. Robert McWilliams — which includes charges that span two Ohio counties — should move to federal court, the filing says.

McWilliams has pleaded not guilty to charges in two counties that accuse him of possessing child pornography. A grand jury in Cuyahoga County charged him last month in a 21-count indictment, and he faces a single charge in Chardon Municipal Court.

Flaiz wrote in the filing that McWilliams is expected to face additional charges once the case is presented to a grand jury there. He is currently being held in the Geauga County Jail on a $150,000 bond.

The new allegations haven’t resulted in charges yet, but the prosecution says that’s the next step. The reason we are finding out about this now is because there was a debate over the $150,000 bond leveled against McWilliams. His court-appointed attorney argued it was unreasonable to keep him in jail unless he paid that high amount, so the government released some more of its evidence to show it was actually warranted.

McWilliams was originally arrested thanks to an investigation by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children task force, which resulted in the raid of his church. He was accused of using a second cellphone number to initiate conversations with kids while pretending to be someone else. He then extorted them for nude images, according to prosecutors.

Officers during the search seized electronic devices including a cellphone, iPad and laptop associated with McWilliams. Investigators discovered additional images of child pornography that were not related to the Geauga County investigation, and charged McWilliams in Cuyahoga County, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Carl Sullivan said.

With new evidence and charges pouring in, this is another reminder of why religious leaders never deserve unearned trust.

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