Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Former DeSales University Catholic Priest indicted on child pornography charges

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A former DeSales University Catholic priest who lives in Wilmington, Delaware, has been indicted on child pornography charges. Rev. William McCandless, a former adviser to Monaco’s royal family, was charged in Philadelphia.

Prosecutors say McCandless — a member of the Wilmington-based religious order Oblates de St. Francis De Sales and formerly assigned to DeSales University in Lehigh County — amassed a trove of thousands of illicit images of children, including some involving torture.

Up until 2017, McCandless had served as the vicar of St. Charles Parish in Monte Carlo, on the French Riviera, and served as a close adviser to the royal family.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the 56-year-old former priest amassed his collection of pornographic images while serving in Monte Carlo.

Federal prosecutors say, “he conducted internet searches for things like how to get ‘off the grid,’ how to ‘disappear’ and how to erase items from ‘the cloud.’”

McCandless entered a not guilty plea to charges, including possession and transportation of child pornography.

However, the charges unsealed Wednesday were not the first time McCandless had been on the radar. In 2010, the clergy sex abuse watchdog group, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, called for his suspension, saying his name had surfaced in an ongoing clergy abuse lawsuit involving a 14-year-old boy.

At the time, McCandless had been assigned to the Salesianum School, a Catholic private high school in Wilmington. He had also previously served for seven years as a chaplain at North Catholic High School in Philadelphia.

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McCandless was ordered to be placed on home incarceration, with electronic monitoring, and must also surrender his passport.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of 60 years in prison.

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