Former Beaconsfield, Que., deacon William Kokesch was sentenced to two years in prison on Mar. 24. Photo/Twitter

Former deacon gets jail time over child porn charges

By  Alan Hustak, Catholic Register Special
  • March 24, 2015

MONTREAL - A Catholic deacon who was arrested with more than 100,000 pornographic pictures of children was sentenced Mar. 24 to two years less a day in prison.

William Kokesch,. a former communications director for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, will also serve two concurrent sentences — 14 months for the publication of child pornography, and 12 months for distribution. He will be eligible for parole in four months, after serving one-sixth of his sentence.

Before he was sentenced, Kokesch, a former deacon at St. Edmund of Canterbury church in the suburb of Beaconsfield, said his belief in God has become stronger because of the ordeal.

He apologized to the court for all the damage he has caused, saying that since being arrested in December 2012 he has had time, “to recognize the source of character flaws that played a role in what I did. Through the help and support of an extraordinaroly loving wife, some close friends and neighbours, my family, self-help groups, and the professional and spiritual counselling I am undergoing, I have grown greatly as a person, rebuilding my life into one that is wholesome and good.”

Defence lawyer Jeffrey Boro said he believes Kokesch has come a long way during more than two years of therapy, and suggested “there are many other people, many more than we know, that have the same problem.”

Kokesch had been undergoing a period of psycho-sexual treatment before he was sentenced. He was relieved of all pastoral duties the day after his arrest. But the damage to the parish was widespread. The church has lost parishioners as a result.

Kokesch studied at Concordia University in Montreal, worked for The Gazette and for CTV, and in 1981 was ordained a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. The married father of five adult children became the spokesman for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on a number of burning issues in the early 2000s.

He was widely quoted in the media during coverage of sexual abuse allegations in 2002. His message was that reconciliation and healing take time. He also boasted that the Canadian bishops adopted a zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse 10 years before their U.S. counterparts.

Kokesch organized the Canadian delegation to World Youth Day celebrations in Germany in 2005, and was quoted in the Globe and Mail about the importance of harnessing youthful energy in the wake of the 2002 event in Toronto.

“Spirituality is more important than the physical act of going to church. The most important thing is how you live your life, our prime goal is to get people to do things that are Christian, to care for others, for the poor and for the sick," he was quoted in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

After he has served his sentence, Kokesch will be on probation for three years, and has been prohibited from using the internet and being near children under the age of 16 for 10 years.

(Hustak is a contributing editor for VilleMarieOnline.com in Montreal.)

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