Rhode Island Priest Appears in Federal Court on Charges of Distributing, Receiving Child Pornography

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. –  Father James W. Jackson, 66, arrested on October 30, 2021, by the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force on state child pornography charges, made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court today on a federal criminal complaint charging him with distributing child pornography, and possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography.

According to court documents, on September 4, 2021, an East Providence Detective assigned to the ICAC Task Force identified an IP address allegedly being utilized to share files of child sexual abuse material on a peer-to-peer file-sharing network. It was determined that the IP address was assigned to the rectory at St. Mary’s Church in Providence, where Jackson served as a priest. The IP address was allegedly used multiple times between September 26 and October 17, 2021, to view and share videos consistent with child sexual abuse material.

On October 30, 2021, the East Providence Detective and other members of the ICAC Task Force executed a court-authorized search of two rooms inside St. Mary’s rectory used by Jackson. An on-scene forensic preview of a two-terabyte external digital storage device allegedly belonging to Jackson was found to contain videos to include prepubescent females, including infants and toddlers, engaged in various sexual acts.

Jackson, who had been free on bail having been charged by Rhode Island State Police with possession of child pornography, transfer of child pornography, and child erotica prohibited, appeared today before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan on a federal criminal complaint charging him with distributing child pornography and possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography. He was released on unsecured bond with electronic monitoring, and allowed to travel to Kansas to live with a family member.

Distributing child pornography is punishable by a statutory penalty of up to twenty years in federal prison, with a minimum mandatory term of incarceration of five years. Possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography is punishable by up to twenty years of incarceration.

 A federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Anyone who would like to provide additional information should contact Homeland Security Investigations at (401) 734-8114.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. McAdams.

The Rhode Island ICAC Task Force is comprised of members of the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit and detectives from the Warwick, East Providence, North Kingstown, Portsmouth, Cranston, and Bristol Police Departments, and agents from Homeland Security Investigations and United States Postal Inspection Services.


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