Prosecutors recommend up to 10 years for Catholic priest in child porn case

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A suspended Catholic priest should serve eight to 10 years in prison for receiving and possessing child pornography, federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing Sunday.

Bartley Sorensen, 63, was caught viewing a pornographic image by an employee at Saint John Fisher Parish in Churchill a month after he was transferred there from Saint Anne Parish in Castle Shannon. He pleaded guilty in May, and is set to be sentenced Sept. 13.

Mr. Sorensen "searched for and acquired images of children being sexually abused for at least 10 years," Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig W. Haller wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "Regardless of whether Mr. Sorensen ever commits another crime, he should be sentenced to a serious prison term for the serious child exploitation crime he has already committed and the corresponding harm he has already caused his victims."

Mr. Haller said that federal sentencing guidelines suggest an term of 97 to 121 months, calling that "a reasonable sentence."

Last month Mr. Sorensen's attorney, Patrick J. Thomassey, wrote in a court filing that the defendant should get the mandatory minimum of five years in prison.

"There is no evidence of file sharing or swapping and there is no evidence that Sorensen ever engaged in any improper conduct with a child," Mr. Thomassey wrote. "Bartley Sorensen was a law abiding citizen and had no criminal record before committing the charged acts.

"Immediately after being charged he recognized that he had an addiction problem and he should address this issue through counseling and treatment," Mr. Thomassey's filing continued.

U.S. District Judge Alan N. Bloch is expected to determine the sentence.

breaking - region

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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