Traditionalist Priest Admits Probable Cause for Child Porn

News: US News
by Christine Niles  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  October 4, 2022   

Fr. James Jackson, FSSP agrees to remain in jail

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A traditionalist priest is admitting there is probable cause for the government to prove he had child porn.

In an Oct. 3 detention hearing in Rhode Island District Court, Fr. James Jackson, a priest of the Fraternity of St. Peter, admitted probable cause exists for the federal government to prove he violated multiple conditions of his bond, including possession of child porn.

Jackson was arrested in October 2021 for possession and distribution of child pornography involving infants, toddlers and bestiality. He was released on bond with electronic monitoring, and permitted to travel to Kansas to stay with family. 

In July, he was rearrested for violating the conditions of his bond, although no details were released at the time. He was transported back to Rhode Island, where he has been detained in jail. 

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Oct. 3 court docket

The Oct. 3 docket notes, "Court informs defendant of 'technical violations.' Defendant admits to all three violations; Defendant admits to probable cause as to remaining violations."

In comments to Church Militant, the spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Rhode Island explained that Jackson admitted the federal government could prove he violated the following release conditions:

  • That he not possess any materials including videos, magazines, photographs, computer-generated depictions or any other forms that depict sexually explicit conduct involving children; that he have access to only one internet-connected device; that he notify his supervising probation officer of all computers or electronic data storage devices where he was residing and to report any additional acquisitions.
  • Additionally, he further admitted that the government could establish probable cause that he committed a new crime, to wit, possession of child pornography, while on pretrial release. To be very clear — he did not admit that he committed the new crime, only that the government could establish probable cause that he did.
  • He conceded that he be detained pending further proceedings.

In criminal law, "probable cause" means a reasonable belief exists that a crime was committed, therefore justifying the arrest. 

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From Oct. 3 order of detention

According to the Oct. 3 order of detention, the court agreed to keep Jackson in jail because "there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed one or more of the following offenses ... an offense involving a minor victim ... ."

Affidavit: Extreme Child Porn

A three-month sting led to a raid of Fr. Jackson's rectory at St. Mary's Parish in Providence on Oct. 30, 2021. The sting revealed child porn had been downloaded from and uploaded to and sent from Jackson's computer on Sunday, Sept. 26; Friday, Oct. 15; and Sunday, Oct. 17.

An affidavit signed Nov. 1 by Homeland Security Special Agent James Richardson details the nature of the Jackson investigation and the footage found on his rectory computer (caution: graphic content):

On September 4, 2021, East Providence Police Department (EPPD) and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force member Detective Corporal Stephen Evans identified a computer or other device utilizing Internet Protocol (IP) address 72.82.21.56 sharing files of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) using a peer-to-peer file-sharing network. 

Detective Corporal Evans viewed a portion of the aforementioned files and confirmed several of the video files content to be CSAM. One of the files is described below:

File Name: Wanted Dad And Daughter-1

Description: This video is two minutes, and 32 seconds of a nude prepubescent female performing oral sex on an adult male.

During the raid, the task force found the priest outside his rectory and conducted a search of two rooms inside the building. Officers read him his Miranda rights, and the priest immediately asked to speak with his attorney "after learning that detectives were there to investigate offenses related to child pornography."

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Western Digital EasyStore external hard drive, similar to

the device in Fr. Jackson's rectory containing child porn

The affidavit details other disturbing footage found on the priest's external hard drive.

RISP Forensic Analyst (FA) Gerald Gent conducted an on-scene forensic preview of Jackson's 2 terabyte Western Digital easystore external hard drive located in Jackson's office area of the rectory which adjoined Jackson's bedroom. As a result of the preview, FA Gent observed hundreds of image and video files depicting [child sexual abuse material]. These image and video files depicted prepubescent females, including infants and toddlers, engaged in sexual acts, to include bondage and bestiality, and/or the graphic and lascivious exhibition of their genitals. One particular video file, Jenny Suck Dog Cock And Loving It.avi ... depicts a nude prepubescent female repeatedly inserting a dog's penis into her mouth.

While various online commentators, including Mike Parrott of Restoring the Faith Media, claimed Jackson was "set up" by federal agents, no evidence has ever been offered to substantiate that theory.

In light of Jackson's recent admission there is probable cause to show he possessed child porn, that theory is now officially dead.

The Fr. Jackson Fundraiser

Parrott became notorious for establishing a fundraiser for Jackson in November, which raised nearly $150,000.

He promised he would spend half on a "private investigation" involving "forensic computing" on "relevant physical devices," and said he was working with "two teams" of investigators, and had hired "former NSA, former State Department former Homeland Security."

None of this ever occurred.

Instead, Parrott paid $55,000 to Michael Archer, an unlicensed investigator with no expertise in forensic computing, who filed bankruptcy shortly after receiving payment.

To this day Archer has refused to give an accounting of how he has spent that money, and has disobeyed a court order that he hand over his bank statements and correspondence with Parrott.

Church Militant also learned that Parrott tried to get a personal kickback from the attorney representing Fr. Jackson, John Calcagni. Calcagni refused, as doing so would have been wire fraud, a federal crime.

At the time the fundraiser was launched, Church Militant questioned the wisdom and feasibility of Parrott's "private investigation," asking how he expected to get access to the evidence (seized computer and hard drive) being used to prosecute Jackson.


Instead of answering in a straightforward manner, he launched a defamation campaign against this organization, falsely accusing it of "blackmail, "extortion" and "threatening" his "family." Church Militant sued him for defamation.

The case recently settled, Parrott admitting wrongdoing, apologizing for his defamation and agreeing to pay a portion of attorneys' fees.

As this reporter noted on Nov. 6, 2021

Has anyone thought of the public optics of a fundraiser for a priest who may be spending years in a federal penitentiary for the most extreme child porn? ...

The forever headline by media will be: "TRAD CATHOLICS RAISED $140K FOR CONVICTED CHILD PORN PRIEST"

Great job, guys. Every single person who donated (especially those who publicly vouched for his innocence) will have contributed to a huge black mark on traditionalism, further giving the impression to outsiders that trads (whether SSPX or FSSP) really don't care about abuse victims; they just care about protecting priests — including predators.

The FSSP, which offers the traditional liturgy, was canonically erected in 1988 under Pope St. John Paul II after a number of priests left the Society of St. Pius X following Abp. Marcel Lefebvre's consecration of four bishops, in defiance of the pope. 

Father Jackson served as rector of the FSSP's seminary in Denton, Nebraska from 2000–2007. Before coming to Rhode Island in August, he served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Littleton, Colorado. 

He is featured in Episode 1 of the trilogy Mass of the Ages, highlighting the beauties of the Traditional Latin Mass.

The diocese of Providence, under Bp. Thomas Tobin, has prohibited Jackson "from the sacred ministry and the exercise of the office of pastor" following news of his arrest.

The Department of Homeland Security is asking any tips related to this investigation to be made to (401) 734-8114.

The affidavit is set forth in full below.

 

11/6/2021: This article was updated with new information from Fr. Jackson's Nov. 3 court hearing.

 

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