Waterford — Bishop Michael R. Cote said in a letter to parishioners of the Diocese of Norwich that he has started the process of dismissing a local priest from the clerical state after he was arraigned earlier this week on child pornography charges.
Cote also said in the letter that the diocese will offer to send the Rev. Dennis Carey, the former pastor of St. Paul in Chains Church, to a residential treatment program. The letter was to be read this weekend at all parishes of the diocese.
Carey, 65, resigned on June 29 and was charged with a single count of first-degree possession of child pornography after police found 338 files of suspected child pornography on two laptops, two tower computers and two external drives that state police seized from the St. Paul rectory.
Carey said at his arraignment that he wants help for a child pornography addiction. He was released on $100,000 bond and his attorney said he was taking him to a psychiatrist.
In the letter, Cote outlined the investigation conducted by police against Carey. He said there appears to be no evidence that Carey was involved in the production of child pornography or that he personally abused any child.
Cote also said that he is following the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," published by bishops in 2002, which requires him to offer Carey psychological help.
It also requires Carey's dismissal from the clerical state because there is a zero tolerance policy when the "acquisition, possession, or distribution of pornographic images of minors under the age of fourteen" is involved, Cote said. The police arrest affidavit lists pornographic images of children from Carey's personal computer who were younger than 14.
"If pornography is a plague, then child pornography is a cancer," Cote wrote in the letter. "For each pornographic image there is a real life child who has been sexually abused and whose life has been irreparably damaged.
"... That child has also been abused and re-victimized by the person who has received or shared the pornographic images, each and every time that the image is viewed," Cote continued.
The Rev. Joseph Whittel has been temporarily assigned to St. Paul. Cote said that he has asked Whittel to set up a parish family meeting with representatives from the diocese. They will answer parishioners' questions and concerns and will determine if other services are needed.
Whittel said earlier this week that many parishioners had contacted him and that his main concern is the people of the parish.
"It is terrible what happened, but I didn't see any animosity," Whittel said of the parish's reaction to Carey's alleged actions. "He needs prayer and help. They're innocent until proven guilty and we have to go along with that."
During an interview with police, Carey admitted he first saw child pornography in an Internet news group two years ago. He said he never intentionally distributed child pornography but is addicted to it and has tried to stop viewing it many times in the past. He told police he has never had sexual contact with a child.
State police were led to Carey after being contacted in May by the Los Angeles police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. They obtained information from America Online, which submitted reports to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children concerning suspected child pornography.
State police, with the assistance of Waterford police, executed search warrants and subpoenas at St. Paul associated with various email accounts and IP addresses. That led to the seizure of the computers and other items.