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Retired Priest, 96, Indicted For Viewing Child Porn At Retirement Home

By Kate Pastor | November 1, 2017 2:13pm
 Two Bronx men have accused the District Attorney's Office of coercing them to lie as witnesses in more than two dozen criminal cases, according to separate notifications filed with the city.
Two Bronx men have accused the District Attorney's Office of coercing them to lie as witnesses in more than two dozen criminal cases, according to separate notifications filed with the city.
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Kate Pastor

THE BRONX — A 96-year-old retired priest who has used his blog to condemn pedophilia in the Catholic Church was found with pornography of girls as young as 8 on his computer, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday in Bronx Supreme Court.

Officials at the the St. John Vianney Center for Retired Priests in Riverdale, where Monsignor Harry J. Byrne lives, received complaints that he viewed pornography in his room where others could see it when they entered, according to the Bronx District Attorney's Office.

According to the investigation into Byrne, he used Google and Bing to find the at least 37 child pornography photos discovered on his computer.

“This investigation by the Economic Crimes Bureau found that the defendant had dozens of photographs on his computer of girls ages 8 to 14 years old performing sex acts with men or posing naked," Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in a statement.

Byrne pleaded not guilty and was released without bail Tuesday.

“Monsignor Byrne has dedicated 72 years to charity and the church with an unsullied history," said his lawyer Marvin Ray Raskin. "It is difficult to imagine that at the age of 96-plus he knowingly understood and is responsible for the content of the subject on a computer accessible to numerous people."

He added that Byrne was a "prodigious activist within the church.”

Byrne, who was an Archdiocesan Chancellor and served in a role as the diocesan notary and helped oversee finances for the Archdiocese of New York from 1968-1970, also busied himself in recent years penning posts on his blog called "Archangel." 

In a missive posted in 2008 he fumed: "My formerly honored regiment of Catholic priests has been disgraced by an infiltration of pedophiles into its ranks. I and my colleagues bear that dark shadow to this day." 

If convicted on the 37 counts in the indictment, he faces up to four years in prison and would have to register as a sex offender if convicted on the top charge, according to the Bronx District Attorney's Office.

The Archdiocese of New York did not comment on the charge but a spokesman said that there has never been an allegation against Byrne before, and that the Archdiocese and the residence where Msgr. Byrne lives, which is run by the Archdiocese, have fully cooperated with the investigation.