William Kokesch

Montreal deacon facing child pornography charges

  • December 28, 2012

OTTAWA (CCN) - William Kokesch, a Montreal permanent deacon who served nearly10 years as a communications director for Canada's Catholic bishops, faceschild pornography charges.

On Dec. 27, Kokesch, 65, was released on bail after posting a $10,000 cashbond.  The judge ordered him not to use computers or be around anyone under18 without adult supervision.

The married father of five grown children will next appear in court Feb. 27.

Kokesch, who was ordained to the diaconate in 1981, spent the Christmasholidays behind bars after being arrested Dec. 21 and charged with theproduction and distribution of child pornography.  

Information revealed during a bail hearing was placed under a publicationban at the request of Kokesch's lawyer. 

Montreal Police Service communications Constable Danny Richer told CCNseveral people have contacted the police with information concerning thecase since news broke of Kokesch's arrest Dec. 21.  Investigators have metwith them and "are trying to analyze the new information," he said.

Richer said members of the public are urged to contact their local policestation or the Montreal Police Service's info line at +1 514 393 1133 ifthey have more information.

On Dec. 21, police conducted searches of Kokesch's church office at St.Edmund of Canterbury parish in Beaconsfield and of his home in PointeClaire, Richer said.  The search came after police received a complaint fromthe public, he said.

They discovered more than 2,000 child porn images on a computer and otherinformation devices they seized in the search, Richer said. 

The Montreal archdiocese removed Kokesch from "all ministry and pastoralactivity" upon learning of his arrest, according to a Dec. 22 statement.

"Having just learned of the charges against Mr. Kokesch, the diocese isprofoundly upset," said the statement. "Child pornography is an affront tohuman dignity, and our first concern rests with those who are its victims."

"We wish to assure all those concerned by this event that we are keepingthem in our prayers, and we urge everyone to have confidence in and respectfor the judicial process and to await its conclusions," said the statement.

Kokesch had extensive media experience, starting from his work as a reporterfor the Montreal Gazette in the 1970s, then as a radio reporter. He workedfor a nearly a decade from 1995-2005 as English sector communicationsdirector for the CCCB, fielding many of the questions about the sexual abusecrisis in the early 2000s.

Kokesch lost his job at the CCCB in early 2005 during a major restructuringof the Ottawa secretariat.  

In recent years, he operated an independent communications company servingprimarily charities and churches.  

Reporters descended on St. Edmund's parish the weekend of the arrest, butfew parishioners would consent to being interviewed and then only withoutreleasing their names.  Most expressed disbelief and shock; others said theywere certain he did not abuse children from the church.

Montreal diocesan spokesman Eric Durocher told the QMI news agency Kokeschcoordinated the church's altar service and worked closely with the parishpriest.  Durocher said "as far as we know [Kokesch] was never alone withchildren; there was always another adult present."

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