Toledo Priest Sentenced

Tina Reilly
Toledo, OH -- After finding evidence of child pornography in the home of Father Stephen Rogers eight months ago, the priest was sentenced today in federal court to 21 months in a North Carolina prison, in addition to three years of supervised release. Rogers' sentence will commence over the next few weeks, the court stated.

The priest will begin serving the term of his sentence over the next few weeks, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western Division of Ohio told XBiz.

Rogers was sentenced to time at Butner prison and will be assigned to a unit for sexual offenders.

While many critics of the case say that the priest was given a lighter sentence than he deserved, Judge David Katz took into consideration Rogers' recent heart bypass surgery, prostate cancer, and the fact that he had no prior criminal record, before handing down his sentence in court.

Judge Katz also reportedly considered the priest's recent efforts to rehabilitate himself by entering a program shortly after his arrest.

Federal agents found evidence of child pornography in the priest's Toledo home in December 2002. Rogers pleaded guilty in May of this year on all charges in a deal worked out with the government.

During an opportunity to address the court, Rogers reportedly apologized for his actions and thanked those who have stood by him, including friends and fellow parishioners from the Toledo Catholic Diocese.

"Typically priests accused of sex crimes receive lighter sentences than others, which we find troubling. It is a very unfortunate and unsafe pattern," David Clohessy told XBiz. Clohessy is the national director for the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests.

"The good news is that for 21 months children will be safer," he continued. "And while we obviously can't say that everyone who has or deals with child porn is a child molester, I think history shows that many, many child molesters do own or deal with child porn."

The Toledo Diocese stated that it will not determine Father Rogers' future with the local parish until his sentence had been served.

"We thought it was appropriate that he take into account Father's past service but also appropriate to deal very strongly with the whole issue of child pornography," Rev. Michael Billian, Diocesan Chancellor, was quoted as saying.