DA: Pa. priest posed as girl, shared child porn on Instagram

WESTTOWN, Pa. -- A priest from Chester County is behind bars, charged with posing as a young girl on Instagram to send and receive child pornography.

55-year-old Mark Haynes, a priest assigned to Saints Simon and Jude Parish in Westtown Township, is with multiple counts of sexual abuse of children for possessing and disseminating child porn.

An undercover investigation revealed Haynes set up an Instagram account and posed as an underage girl named Katie to share multiple pornographic images of children.

Prosecutors say Haynes also posed as a 16-year-old girl to exchange lewd emails with a still-to-be-identified 14-year-old girl.

Investigators have seized all of Haynes electronic devices and are reviewing them.

Haynes has served at eight different parishes in the Philadelphia Archdiocese since 1985. The parishes are located in Chester, Delaware, Bucks and Montgomery Counties.

Haynes is now behind bars after failing to post $200,000 bail.

The Chester County District Attorney says the Saints Simon and Jude Parish immediately excluded him from the parish property after the crimes were discovered, and that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the parish have been cooperating fully with law enforcement.

The Archodiocese released the following statement Friday afternoon:

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has learned that Father Mark Haynes was arrested by Chester County Police. He was charged with two counts of dissemination of child pornography, two counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of criminal use of a communications device.

These charges are serious and disturbing. The Archdiocese is cooperating fully with law enforcement regarding this matter and remains fervently committed to preventing child abuse as well as protecting the children and young people entrusted to its care. Child pornography is a scourge that must be eradicated.

There were no prior indications that Father Haynes was involved in activity of this nature. Additionally, no allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have ever been lodged against him.

Father Haynes was immediately placed on administrative leave following his arrest and is no longer residing at Saints Simon and Jude Parish in West Chester, where he was assigned. Priests on administrative leave are not permitted to exercise their public ministry, administer any of the Sacraments, or present themselves publicly as priests.

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