St. Louis priest gets nearly 7 years in prison -

St. Louis priest gets nearly 7 years in prison

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By Afton Spriggs By Afton Spriggs

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A St. Louis priest was sentenced Thursday to nearly seven years in prison for possessing child pornography, and the effort to remove him as a priest is under way.

U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton sentenced James Patrick Grady to 80 months in prison, fined him $12,500 and banned him from areas like parks and schools where children gather, except with special permission. Grady, who pleaded guilty in March, must also forfeit property, including his laptop computer and his Toyota Camry.

Calls seeking comment from Grady's attorney, J. Martin Hadican, were not returned., the website for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reported that Grady said in court he was "deeply sorry" for the pain he caused family, friends, parishioners and the Catholic Church, and was grateful for supporters who know "what's in my heart."

Archbishop Robert Carlson said in a statement that with the criminal case concluded, he will begin the process of removing Grady as a priest.

"Child pornography is a serious crime against the young victims who are exploited in its production," Carlson said. "I am deeply apologetic that one of our priests was involved in viewing this material and thus contributed to the great harm caused by this form of child abuse."

Grady, 59, was a longtime priest in the archdiocese. Last summer, he was serving at St. Raphael The Archangel in St. Louis when prosecutors say he responded to ads on Craigslist offering young females of an unspecified age for sex.

In fact, the ads were part of an FBI sting operation.

Grady responded by e-mail to the Craigslist ad was told a 16-year-old girl was available for sex. The U.S. attorney's office said Grady was sent a digitally altered photo of a girl and responded by inquiring about the cost.

Prosecutor say Grady indicated he wanted a half-hour with the girl and set up a meeting.

He showed up at a house to meet the girl, and was arrested by the FBI and police from Maryland Heights and St. Louis County. Two other men were also arrested as part of the sting.

After his arrest, Grady admitted he intended to have sex with the girl, the U.S. attorney's office said.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped charges of attempting to obtain a minor for a commercial sex act and using interstate commerce to attempt to entice or coerce someone under 18 to engage in prostitution or sexual activity.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Marcus said investigators found more than 100 images of child pornography involving girls ages 7-17 on the hard drive of Grady's parish-purchased laptop computer.

Carlson said that since 2002, more than 75,000 adults in the archdiocese -- clergy, teachers, staff, volunteers -- have gone through its Safe Environment Program that requires a state background check, attendance at Protecting God's Children workshop and compliance with a code of ethical conduct.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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