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Child Exploitation

Former priest sentenced for possession, distribution of child pornography

DETROIT – A former priest was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison Wednesday for possession and distribution of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Timothy Murray, 63, of Novi, pleaded guilty to one count of distributing child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography in July 2013.

According to court records, Murray used peer-to-peer software to trade child pornography with others, including an undercover HSI special agent. A search warrant executed at Murray’s home recovered at least seven different computer devices containing videos and images of child pornography. Murray’s collection included more than 650 movies and 450 images of child pornography. Murray had previously served as a Catholic priest within the Archdiocese of Detroit before being removed from public ministry when substantiated allegations of Murray’s prior sexual abuse of a young boy came to light.

U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade stated, "The hands-on sexual abuse that led to his removal from public ministry by the Catholic Church had long-lasting effects on the defendant’s prior victim. Similarly, the victims depicted in his extensive collection of child pornography suffered greatly not only at the hands of their abusers, but by those, like the defendant, who collect and continue to view the permanent depictions of their abuse."

"For a former priest to engage in the depraved activity for which he is being sentenced is reprehensible," said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of HSI Detroit. "Today’s sentencing will hopefully bring a measure of closure to those affected by his actions. Cases like these serve to strengthen HSI’s resolve to aggressively pursue child predators."

This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.