Paedo priest jailed after leaving sickening child abuse photos in church printer

A paedo priest who regularly updated a slideshow of sick child abuse images for over a decade has been sentenced to five years behind bars.

The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri said on Tuesday that investigators had found over 6,000 items of child sexual abuse material on a computer belonging to Vincentian priest James T. Beighlie of St. Louis, Missouri.

The priest’s vile stash of images and videos was discovered in May 2021 after he printed out a PowerPoint presentation of some of the images, some of which showed Fr. Beighlie.

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At the time, he was working as an associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis as part of the Congregation of the Mission, and colleagues found "compromising images" of him that had been left in a church printer.

Court documents say that some of the children in the images appeared to be under the age of 12 and that some of them "portrayed sadistic or masochistic conduct".

Assistant US Attorney Colleen Lang told a court that Fr. Beighlie, who is now retired, had updated the sickening slideshow presentations more than 200 times.

"This criminal conduct was part of his daily life," she said.

After the shocking discovery, church officials asked Fr. Beighlie to hand over his electronic devices, which are believed to have been paid for by parishioners.

Court documents say he handed over four desktop computers, a laptop, four external hard drives and a smartphone.

An IT company hired by the church to examine the computers found videos of what appeared to be "minors engaging in sex acts".

It was at that point that church officials called in the FBI.

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The priest pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography in October.

On Tuesday, Fr. Beighlie was sentenced to five years and pay $4,750 in restitution to one of the victims portrayed in his collection and $22,000 in special assessments that will go toward other victims of crimes involving children.

In a victim impact statement one of the victims spoke out about the abuse.

"It's depressing and sickening to know that people were looking at images and videos of my online sexual abuse when I was a little girl and that they were getting pleasure from it – my abuse," she said.

Rev. Patrick McDevitt, provincial superior for the Congregation of the Western Province, said in a statement that the case was "very saddening”. He added "we respect the judge's decision and have cooperated with law enforcement throughout the process."

However, he asked for "mercy for Jim," and even offered to use church funds to house Fr. Beighlie, who is now 72, instead of sending him to prison.

"What Jim has done is wrong and criminal," Rev McDevitt said. "After Jim was moved to Perryville, he started engaging in prayer, he eats meals with his confreres, and he is an active participant in community life.

"If only he had been involved like this years before," he added, "I truly believe he would not be in the situation that he is in."

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