CLEVELAND — A Catholic priest from Strongsville who was arrested last week for allegedly possessing child pornography was arraigned in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas on Monday.
Reverend Robert McWillams was arrested Thursday at St. Joseph Catholic Church for allegedly possessing child porn.
According to the criminal complaint against McWilliams, he was in possession of child pornography three separate times—the first instance in 2016, again in 2018 and then one more just this year.
At his arraignment Monday morning, bond for McWilliams was set at $50,000, and he was appointed a public defender by the court. The conditions of his release include supervision by the court and GPS monitoring.
McWilliams waived his preliminary hearing and the case is being referred to the Grand Jury.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests thanked law enforcement for arrested McWilliams, but said there is still work to do. They released the following statement:
"We applaud law enforcement for their work in this case, but there is still much more to do. Child pornography is a crime with many victims, many predators and a tragically long shelf life.
Rev. Robert McWilliams was arrested on church property for possessing child pornography. Now Catholic officials in the Diocese of Cleveland must immediately call upon any victims, witnesses, or whistleblowers to come forward to law enforcement with information that will aid in the investigation. Rev. McWilliams' complete work history must also be publicized and reviewed, with an eye to uncovering whether any children were victimized at any of his posts.
Catholic leadership often says that sex abuse in the Church is "in the past,” but cases like this prove otherwise. Over the past two years, law enforcement in at least 30 states have arrested or started criminal proceedings against living, working priests implicated in sex abuse, according to SNAP’s internal monitoring. This means that parishioners and the public must continue to be vigilant in order to protect children in their communities.
Child pornography is a devastating crime that can lead to a lifetime of victimization. Now it is up to Catholic officials in Cleveland to learn whether or not any parishioners were harmed by Rev. McWilliams. In addition to doing outreach to every church where Rev. McWilliams worked, we also call on Bishop Nelson Perez to release the findings of the secret grand jury investigation into his diocese. The only way to protect children is to be completely transparent."