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Strongsville priest facing federal charges for child pornography, exploitation and sex trafficking

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Posted at 3:49 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-22 09:46:31-05

CLEVELAND — A Strongsville priest accused of possessing child pornography was charged Friday for allegedly being involved in child prostitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Editor's note: Some of the information in this story is graphic.

Robert D. McWilliams, 39, is charged with receiving or distributing child pornography, sexual exploitation of children and sex trafficking of a minor, authorities said. He was charged by criminal complaint.

According to the attorney’s office, McWilliams posed as a female on social media in order to entice minor males into sending sexually explicit photographs and videos, sometimes threatening to expose embarrassing information he already knew about the victims if they did not send him photos.

Authorities say McWilliams was already familiar with the victims since he served as a priest at the churches that the children and their families attended. Attorneys said McWilliams followed through on his threats "by sending the mothers sexually explicit photographs he received from minor male victims."

After McWilliams was arrested, authorities said that they found around 1,700 images and videos of child pornography in his possession, including a video of a male infant being raped by an adult male. Additionally, authorities said that around 150 files of child pornography were found in a Dropbox account.

The attorney’s office states that the priest used a social media website to meet underage males and on multiple occasions paid a 15-year-old boy in exchange for sex.

Authorities are asking that anyone with information regarding McWilliams to call Homeland Security Investigations at 216-749-9602.

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