November 30, 2005

Counseling offered after sentencing of parish priest

Providence Journal

Journal Staff Writer

FALL RIVER -- The Diocese of Fall River has said it will offer professional counseling to parishioners who feel they need it in the wake of this week's sentencing of Father Stephen A. Fernandes, 55, on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography.

A statement released by the diocese says Bishop George Coleman "is concerned, first and foremost, for the parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in New Bedford, where Father Fernandes was serving at the time of his arrest, as well as for the people of other parishes where he served."

Fernandes was sentenced to serve eight mouths at the Duke's County House of Correction on Martha's Vineyard and will be eligible for parole in three months. Investigators found about 650 pictures and 114 videos on his laptop of children engaging in sex acts.

Fernandes remains on administrative leave, as he has since his arrest a year ago. While on leave, he is not allowed to function as a priest.

Posted by kshaw at November 30, 2005 08:59 AM