Arlington Heights priest faces child pornography charges

Clovis Javier Vilchez-Parra, 34. (Palatine Police Department)

An assistant pastor at a northwest suburban church appeared in Cook County Court Wednesday on felony child pornography charges.

Clovis Vilchez-Parra, 34, is charged with charged with possessing and reproducing child pornography.

"The depictions show some children that appear to be as young as 5 years old," said Lorna Amado-Chevlin, assistant state's attorney.

Prosecutors said Vilchez-Parra - who until yesterday was an associate pastor at Mision San Juan Diego in Arlington Heights - was arrested Tuesday night at the parish home.

"He was shown some of the images and videos that were recovered and again identified that those were in fact images and videos that he had retrieved," Amado-Chevlin said.

Prosecutors said the images located on Vilchez-Parra's personal laptop were of children involved in various acts of sexual conduct, most under the age of 13. They said Vilchez-Parra was caught as a result of a Cook County internet crimes investigation into users of a peer-to-peer file sharing program called "Ares".

The pastor of Mision San Juan Diego left court without comment Wednesday, but Vilchez-Parra's defense attorney says he's astounded at the allegations against his associate pastor, who had only been at his current post for a year-and-a-half.

"Very much in shock, I'm just unbelievably shocked. Never saw it. Never thought about it. Never intimated anything like that," Joe Roddy, defense attorney.

The archdiocese Wednesday said Vilchez-Parra has been removed from ministry for the time being, adding: "Under our justice system, Fr. Vilchez-Parra is innocent until proven guilty. The Church stands ready to cooperate fully with the civil authorities as part of our commitment to the safety of children."

There's no word from the archdiocese as to whether the priest's previous position put him in contact with children. If convicted, Vilchez-Parra faces anywhere from 6 to 30 years in prison.
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