More federal child porn charges filed against former Strongsville priest

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The U.S. Attorney’s office announced additional child pornography charges against a priest who served in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.

The eight-count indictment against Robert McWilliams, 40, of Strongsville, are the latest charges where prosecutors say the defendant attempted to leverage knowledge he had gained as a priest to help him exploit underage children.

The charges include sex trafficking of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, as well as transporting and possessing child pornography.

Prosecutors say McWilliams pretended to be a female online and would reach out to make contact with minor male victims. Allegedly, he knew some of the victims because he served as a priest in parishes where these children and their families were affiliated.

McWilliams allegedly enticed the minors to send sexually explicit photos and videos, and sometimes threatened to expose embarrassing information that he already knew about them if they did not comply. At times, McWilliams is alleged to have threatened to send the embarrassing photos to family and friends of the victims if they did not send him more.

“The alleged acts are a disturbing and strong reminder for parents to be vigilant about who their children talk to and what they do online,” says U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman.

An affidavit alleges McWilliams possessed, received, or distributed roughly 1,700 images of child pornography, and had about 150 files of child porn in a Dropbox cloud storage account.

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