Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Catholic News ServiceFebruary 08, 2022
Screen capture from WKYC Cleveland report.

CLEVELAND (CNS) — A former priest of the Diocese of Cleveland serving a life term in federal prison for sexually exploiting boys, has died, authorities said.

Robert McWilliams, 41, was found unresponsive early Feb. 4 in Allenwood Federal Correctional Institution in White Deer, Pennsylvania, where he was serving his sentence, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. It is believed that he died by suicide.

The Cleveland Diocese said it learned of McWilliams' death the afternoon of Feb. 4.

“We place this and all difficult situations in the hands of God. We will continue to pray for the those hurt by his actions. May God be the source of their healing,” the Diocese of Cleveland said in a statement.

“We place this and all difficult situations in the hands of God. We will continue to pray for the those hurt by his actions. May God be the source of their healing,” the diocese said in a statement.

McWilliams pleaded guilty in November to multiple child sex abuse and pornography charges in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. During his sentencing hearing a week later, he admitted to being addicted to pornography. In December, Pope Francis dismissed McWilliams from the priesthood.

In July, McWilliams pleaded guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of youths younger than 18, three counts of sexual exploitation of children and three counts involving child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi said she imposed the strict sentence because the public needed to be protected from McWilliams because he had preyed upon youths who turned to him for help.

McWilliams, who was ordained in 2017, was arrested Dec. 5, 2019, after officials with the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force served a warrant to search his living and office spaces at St. Joseph Parish in suburban Strongsville, Ohio, where he served as parochial vicar.

Law enforcement officials seized two laptops, a tablet and cellphone, all of which they said contained various images, emails and videos depicting child pornography.

The incidents for which McWilliams was charged stemmed from his time in ministry beginning before his ordination at another suburban parish and continued for more than a year. Court records showed that McWilliams allegedly met a male teenager through a cellphone app after offering payment in exchange for sex.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

A Reflection for the Saturday of the Thirteenth week in Ordinary Time, by Doug Girardot
Doug GirardotJuly 02, 2022
I’ve been feeling so down on the state of affairs in this nation that I’ve started to wonder if I can even celebrate the Fourth of July this year without feeling painfully disingenuous. So I looked to my colleagues for hope.
Molly CahillJuly 01, 2022
President Joe Biden will award the nation’s highest civilian honor to a Catholic sister next week.
Cardinal-designate McElroy told reporters on May 31 that he believed the pope selected him because he wanted a cardinal on the U.S. West Coast and because of his support for the pope’s pastoral and ecclesial priorities.
America StaffJuly 01, 2022