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Former Charleroi priest pleads guilty to possessing child pornography

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Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 9:03 a.m.
 

A former pastor in Charleroi admitted in federal court on Thursday that he viewed child pornography and traveled to Thailand to meet teen boys.

David Dzermejko, 65, of Braddock pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh released a statement saying it had no knowledge of the criminal activity and noted that Bishop David Zubik told priests and deacons in January that “viewing child pornography is a criminal act for which society will hear no excuse, accept no extenuating circumstances or grant any mercy.”

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer scheduled Dzermejko's sentencing for March 20.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bloch said Microsoft Corp. notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a SkyDrive user by the name of Lord Winchester Cuthbert Thurston VII uploaded a nude image of a prepubescent child on Dec. 21.

Police tracked the account to Dzermejko and searched his diocesan residence on Jan. 11. Dzermejko initially denied having downloaded child pornography but during the search admitted he has watched it for more than 10 years and visited Thailand, Bloch said.

“He would meet with teen boys, some of whom he continued to have an online relationship with,” she said.

Dzermejko had images of boys on two computers, an external hard drive and an iPhone, she said. None of the images was violent.

“I plead guilty,” Dzermejko told the judge.

He remains free on $50,000 unsecured bond.

Diocesan spokesman Rev. Ronald Lengwin said Dzermejko remains on administrative leave.

“This case will probably be submitted to the Vatican, and there will be a determination made eventually, as the civil process ends, as to whether he will be placed in a program of prayer and penance, which still means he is not a priest in good standing, or he will be withdrawn from the priestly ministry,” Lengwin said.

Brian Bowling is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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