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Retired Priest, 96, Who Slammed Catholic Church For Mishandling Pedophilia Cases Facing Child Porn Charges

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Monsignor Harry Byrne, 96

A 96-year-old retired priest who once ripped the Catholic Church over its pedophile scandal filled his computer with pornographic photos of under-aged girls, prosecutors charged Tuesday.

Monsignor Harry Byrne “had dozens of photographs on his computer of girls eight to 14-years-old performing sex acts with men or posing naked,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.

Visitors to Byrne’s room at the St. John Vianney Center for Retired Priests in Bronx saw the vile collection of photos, the prosecutor said.

The probe began five months ago based on complaints from the home, officials said.

Bryne, once a high-ranking priest in the Archdiocese of New York, arrived for his arraignment in a green plaid shirt and wheelchair.

He faces 37 charges of possessing an sexual performance by a child and another 37 of possessing an obscene sexual performance of a child. If convicted, Byrne faces up to four years in prison.

Byrne listened through a hearing aid as his attorney insisted the accused pervy priest was innocent of all charges at the hearing before Bronx Criminal Court Judge Robert Neary.

“Monsignor Byrne has dedicated 72 years to charity and church with an unsullied history,” said defense attorney Marvin Ray Raskin.

“It is difficult to imagine, at the age of 96, he knowingly understood and is responsible for the content of the subjects on the computer accessible to numerous people.”

But prosecutors charged Byrne used internet search engines to locate the pornography online. The illegal images were found in a forensic sweep of the priest’s computer by the NYPD Computer Crimes Squad, officials said.

Raskin said his client, who was released without bail, was battling a variety of health issues.

In a July 2010 blog post, Byrne railed about the Catholic Church’s horrific mishandling of the pedophile priest crisis.

“Bishops ... quietly reassigned miscreants and thereby exponentially multiplied the number of victims,” he wrote. “In the U.S., not one cover-up bishop has been been arraigned before church authorities for his part in the scandal.”

Byrne was an activist priest who worked to create affordable housing in Bronx and Manhattan, and remained outspoken on church issues even after his retirement.

In 1970, he became the first non-German pastor at St. Joseph’s parish in the Manhattan’s Yorkville neighborhood.


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Monsignor Harry Byrne, 96