Strongsville Catholic priest arrested on child porn charges


Adam Ferrise - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)



STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — A Catholic priest was arrested Thursday on charges of possessing child pornography.

Investigators took St. Joseph Catholic Church Rev. Robert McWilliams into custody Thursday at the church. He is charged with four counts of possessing child pornography and one count of possessing criminal tools.

The criminal complaint was filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. McWilliams, 39, is being held in the Cuyahoga County Jail on $100,000 bond. He is expected to make his first court appearance on Monday.

Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force members raided McWilliams’ living space and office Thursday at St. Joseph Church, according to a statement from the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. The diocese said the officers were searching for “possible crimes committed in Geauga County.”

The officers seized electronic devices, including a cellphone, iPad and laptop associated with McWilliams, the diocese said.

The Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is led by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. A spokesman for the prosecutor said the office is expected to release additional information about the case on Friday.

The charges against McWilliams include crimes that happened between April 2016 through Dec. 5, 2019, according to court records.

The church placed McWilliams on administrative leave. McWilliams became a priest in May 2017. He was a parochial vicar at the school.

“St. Joseph Parish, Sts. Joseph and John School and the Diocese of Cleveland are committed to protecting children and stand ready to cooperate with law enforcement to assist in the investigation,” the diocese statement said.

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Adam Ferrise

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

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