Chicago pastor charged with possession of child pornography

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Octavio Munoz, 40, of Chicago (WLS)

A Chicago priest appeared in court on a child pornography charge.

Fr. Octavio Munoz was removed from ministry last year. He is the former director of the Archdiocese's Casa Jesus program.

Fr. Munoz had been receiving treatment at a Catholic facility in Maryland when a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Over a year after authorities collected his computer, movies and other items, prosecutors said ongoing forensic examination of his belongings led to the priest being arrested and being brought back to Chicago.

A Chicago priest appeared in Cook County Criminal Courtroom, charged with possession of child pornography.

Munoz stood before a judge as a prosecutor gave reasons for the charge.

"Forensic analysis of the defendants electronic devices revealed the two movies previously mentioned, as well as emails and stories of sex with children," said Guy Lisuzzo, a Cook County assistant state's attorney.

Prosecutors allege in July of 2015 an archdiocesan employee and rector first saw inappropriate live webcam images on a computer in Munoz's apartment. That was as Munoz was leaving his post at Casa Jesus, which was a program to recruit seminarians from Latin America, based out of Holy Name Cathedral.

The archdiocese began an internal investigation only when that employee came forward.

By then, Munoz was at St. Pancratius as a pastor.

Chicago police were called in several days later.

Search warrants at both locations led to forensic analysis of several electronic devices, DVDs, VHS tapes and emails allegedly with sexual images and stories of children.

"When these crimes are committed against children, they leave lifelong lasting effects and wounds," said Kate Bochte, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priest.

The Archdiocese of Chicago issued a statement saying, in part: "Archbishop Blase J. Cupich removed Father Munoz from ministry and withdrew his faculties, his authority to minister, after the archdiocese learned that the inappropriate material might involve minors."

Munoz's attorney acknowledged the accusations are serious and urged fairness despite the Catholic church's history with sex abuse cases.

"It's guilt by association, guilt by historical reference as oppose to guilt by individual application of the law," said Munoz's attorney, Raymond Wigell.
The judge issued Munoz a $50,000 bond. But he can only bond out of jail if he surrenders his passport.

Additionally, the judge warned any individual or any agency that might help Munoz leave the area, she said, would have to answer to her directly.

Additionally, if he is allowed out jail on bond, he is ordered he be on electronic monitoring. He is to have no access to phone or internet and he is forbidden from being with anyone under the age of 18.
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