January 20, 2005

Charge added in priest's indictment

Providence Journal

01:00 AM EST on Thursday, January 20, 2005

Journal Staff Writer

NEW BEDFORD -- The charges against the Rev. Stephen Fernandes, a priest who was accused of possessing and disseminating child pornography last year, have been expanded to include one count of exhibiting or posing at least one child engaged in a sexual act.

The new count against Fernandes, a felony with a 10-year sentence, was made public at his indictment in New Bedford Superior Court Tuesday. Fernandes pleaded innocent to it, as well as the other charges against him.

The Bristol County District Attorney's Office has said that the police are trying to find the child or children connected to the new charge against Fernandes.

Assistant District Attorney Gerald FitzGerald said he couldn't provide any details behind the charge, but said the act in question "was essentially accomplished with the aid of the Internet."

FitzGerald's office began investigating Fernandes in October, after , a Fall River computer servicing technician discovered pornography on the priest's laptop.

Fernandes told employees of DEG Associates on Oct. 26 that his laptop was running slowly, and may have had a virus. When DEG technicians started servicing the computer, they discovered child pornography.

Posted by kshaw at January 20, 2005 07:56 AM