HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCORES

Former Pastor Sentenced to Prison on Child Porn Charges

CLEVELAND — The former pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Olmsted Falls will spend the next six years behind bars for downloading child pornography.

Reverend Dr. Mark Griggs, 50, of Berea was arrested in December 2010 following an investigation by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task force called “Operation Lake Effect.”

Prosecutors say they found evidence of hundreds of videos and images that had been downloaded to his computer, some of them from the wireless internet access at his church.

“This was on my computer which I alone am responsible for,” Griggs told Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Suster on Monday.

Griggs earlier pleaded guilty to 83 counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, charges for which he could have been sentenced to a total of more than 600 years.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Jesse Canonico told the court on Monday that the images involved children as young as two years old.

They are images that Canonico told Judge Suster had been downloaded and stored on Grigg’s computer.

“Many of them, your honor, include terms like 7-year old, 8-year old, 9-year old. They describe the sex acts that are being portrayed in the videos. Some of the files the defendant had downloaded unfortunately include children engaged in bestiality with animals which, in my three-and-a-half years of experience of dealing with these cases is the most hard of the hard core,” Canonico told the court.

“I naively didn’t know that people would be hurt by me looking at a picture, and I deeply regret that those people were hurt that children were hurt, because I would never hurt a child intentionally,” said Griggs when given a chance to address the court.

“I don’t know what went wrong along the way I started out with a good heart and I got lost. The best thing that could happen to me was this arrest because now, this last year or so I have had good help,” he continued.

Prosecutors say the victims are the children who are victimized and then their images distributed over the internet.

“We have seen it time and time again these children that are not only sexually assaulted but then videotaped and photographed and their images disseminated over the internet, the harm for them is never ending, because they know that those images and videos are on the internet and they can’t walk down the street without wondering has this person seem my videos or has this person seem my videos and they have told us and we hear that in court that they feel like they are victimized every single time someone downloads their videos or looks at their videos they feel like they are being raped all over again,” said Canonico.

Griggs attorney appealed to the court to pass a sentence that did not involve prison. Defense Attorney Ron Frey told Judge Suster that his client had done many good things in the community for many years and noted that his pre-sentence evaluations showed a medical condition that has caused a part of his brain to atrophy.

Griggs brought with him to court two witnesses who insisted that he would not re-offend.

“He has accepted responsibility for his behavior and I have absolutely no questions about the sincerity of that acceptance,” said Ogden White, a retired Presbyterian Minister.

“We have observed loving, gentle parental care for his children, our grandchildren,” said Donald Griggs, the defendant’s father.

Judge Suster asked the elder Griggs if the evidence he heard about in court on Monday told him more about what was found on his son’s computer than he previously knew.

“More than I wanted to know,” said Grigg’s father.

“I think a lot of time the families don’t have all the information. I don’t think they are really aware of the types of videos say that this defendant was downloading or the titles that they are downloading you know words like 2-year old, 3-year old and 5-year old right there in the titles,” said Canonico.

“We see that a lot in these cases, it’s individuals who are kind of leading a double life where they appear to be normal functioning members of society but then behind closed doors they are looking for and downloading videos and photographs of children being rape,” added the prosecutor.

Prosecutors say none of the allegations against Griggs include children from his church

Suster sentenced Griggs to six years and designated him a level two sexual offender, meaning he will have to report his address to authorities once every six months.