National Catholic Reporter

December 6, 1996

page 9


An English Catholic priest who admitted sexually abusing boys and exchanging pornography on the Internet has been jailed for six years.

Fr. Adrian McLeish, 45, admitted to 12 charges of abuse of four boys under 14 and eight charges of possessing and distributing child pornography.

Police told a court in Newcastle-upon-Tyne that the priest had the biggest collection of child pornography ever discovered. Through the Internet, McLeish, a parish priest of St. Joseph's Church, Durham, had amassed more than 9,000 images of children.

The prosecuting counsel, Beatrice Bolton, said the case was the first in the country where there was a proven link between pornographic communication with other pedophiles on the Internet and the sexual abuse of children.

McLeish had sent E-mail to other pedophiles describing how he had groomed one boy for later abuse. There was also evidence that he had sent pornographic pictures of one of his victims via the Internet.

Bolton said the victims, now aged 18, 14, 10 and 9, were finding it difflcult to come to terms with the priest's breach of trust. She said one of the boys now wanted to move because McLeish had published the family address on the Internet.

A lawyer for three of the families, Charles McCain, said that they would seek reparations from the church.

A spokesman for the Hexham and Newcastle diocese said McLeish would be suspended from the priesthood and on his release from prison would be offered treatment at a clinic specializing in the treatment of sex offenders.