Priest Admits to Addiction and Asks Judge for Leniency

In 2021, a Catholic priest from Rhode Island, accused of possessing explicit materials involving minors, has appealed to the presiding judge for a five-year sentence. Father James Jackson, inactive in his church duties since his arrest in 2021, is scheduled to be sentenced in a US District Court in Providence, RI, on December 13.

Jackson allegedly entered into a plea agreement related to a federal charge under 18 U.S. Code § 2252, focusing on the unlawful possession of materials depicting the exploitation of minors. This agreement, signed during a June hearing, awaits approval from US District Court Judge William Smith, with the decision anticipated on December 13.

Jackson apologized to the court in an August letter for his heinous misconduct and acknowledged the great harm that his possession of the files had caused. He disclosed that he had been sexually abused as a youngster and blamed his behavior on an addiction to illegal information.

Jackson’s legal representatives appended the handwritten apology letter to a sentencing memorandum presented to the court on December 11. Within the memorandum, Jackson requested the judge’s approval for a five-year prison term, followed by supervised release.

The inquiry into Jackson’s misconduct traces its origins to September 2021. As per an official statement from the US Attorney’s Office, a detective affiliated with the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force detected an IP address engaged in the exchange of explicit materials involving minors during that month. The investigation successfully traced the activity back to Jackson’s residence in the rectory at St. Mary’s Church.

12,000 photos and 1,300 films were discovered during a search of Jackson’s computer and one external hard drive that was authorized by the court. Many showed young toddlers in violent and sexually explicit scenarios. Evidence that Jackson had previously erased hundreds of other files was also discovered by the investigators.

The US Department of Justice claims that a first-time offender prosecuted under 18 U.S. A required minimum term of at least five years is imposed for Code section 2252. Nonetheless, according to sentencing guidelines, judges have the authority to impose penalties or increase the period of jail to 20 years.




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