Judge: Priest facing child porn charges can live with family in Kansas

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence priest will be allowed to travel to Kansas to live with family as he awaits trial on child pornography charges.

Father James W. Jackson, 66, was released on unsecured bond Wednesday afternoon following his initial appearance in U.S. District Court, which he made via teleconference.

The prosecution asked that Jackson be detained, saying he’s a flight risk and a potential danger to the community, but the judge instead granted a request made by Jackson’s defense attorney for home detention with GPS monitoring.

While the judge said Jackson could move out of state, he’ll be confined in Rhode Island for the time being since it was revealed in court that he has COVID-19. Once Jackson is COVID-free, he’ll be able to move to Kansas where he must then remain.

He will also undergo mental health treatment if it’s recommended by his supervising officer, according to the judge.

Jackson was arrested over the weekend on charges of possession of child pornography, transfer of child pornography, and child erotica prohibited. A criminal complaint filed Monday charged him with additional federal counts of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.

The accompanying affidavit revealed the investigation began on Sept. 4 after East Providence police and the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force identified an IP address sharing files of “child sexual abuse materials” through a peer-to-peer network. The IP address was linked to St. Mary’s Church on Broadway, police said, and further observation showed more video files were shared in the weeks that followed.

On Oct. 30, police executed a search warrant at the church’s rectory where they encountered Jackson, who was serving as pastor at the time. The affidavit says investigators found hundreds of images and videos of child phonography on a hard drive owned by Jackson, giving them probable cause to arrest him.

According to the Diocese of Providence, Jackson has been “prohibited from the sacred ministry and the exercise of the office of pastor” by Bishop Thomas Tobin.

Tobin said the Diocese is figuring out how to address the situation both “pastorally and canonically,” adding that different priests will fill in at St. Mary’s for the time being.

Jackson was assigned to the church in August and the Diocese said a full background check was conducted, which didn’t present any concerns.

A statement posted on the church’s doors says, in part: “We had no reason to believe Father was engaging in any inappropriate behavior, let alone criminal conduct. We will fully cooperate with the law enforcement authorities as they investigate this matter. We are praying for all involved.”

The Denver Post reports that Jackson worked at a church in Littleton, Colorado, for 15 years prior to moving to Rhode Island. A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Denver said Jackson passed a background check and no allegations of misconduct were brought against him during his time there.

If Jackson is found guilty of distributing child pornography, he’ll face a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. Both federal charges are punishable by up to 20 years of incarceration.

Anyone with information pertinent to the case is asked to call Homeland Security Investigations at (401) 734-8114.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Providence

12 on 12 - Cold Case Cards: All In

More Cold Case Cards All In
PINPOINT WEATHER // Quick Links:

Dan Yorke State of Mind

DYSOM 11/19/2021: Peter Neronha, Attorney General, (D) RI

More Dan Yorke State of Mind

Don't Miss

LIVE CAMS on WPRI.com

More Live Cams
Viewer Pa on WPRI.com

Community Events & Happenings

More Community