Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Father feels his oats

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Apr 23, 2003

The story of Sally Beres and the Diocese of Erie continues to unfold. Beres, you will remember, claims to have reported to diocesan authorities in 1982 that Fr. Robert F. Bower, the Newman Center chaplain to whom she acted as secretary, was into gay porn. Two days after notifying the diocese she was fired, Beres claims. A recent news story gives details of the sequel.

The criminal case against Bower started on Feb. 13, 1999. Rick Miller, a technician at Hometown Computers in Erie, called police after finding child pornography on Bower's computer. Bower had brought in his computer for service because, Miller said in an interview at the time, Bower complained it wasn't running as fast as it should. Miller located the problem: The computer's hard drive was full. He set out to free space by looking in the computer's recycle bin. There, Miller said, he found child pornography. The file that caused him to call police, he said, was called "Dad-baby." It contained three photo images -- before, during and after -- of an adult man sodomizing a 5-year-old boy. The state police trooper, Lee Formichella, now a corporal, arrested Bower on March 10, 1999, and charged him with the three felony counts related to child pornography. He alleged the images were "acquired" between 1996 and 1998, according to the criminal complaint. ... Formichella cited the "Dad-baby" file. He also said he had interviewed Bower. "He admitted to downloading the images from the Internet and admitted to knowing they were illegal," Formichella wrote. "The defendant stated, 'I was 60 and feeling my oats,' alluding to sexual gratification as the purpose of maintaining and possessing the materials."

Charges against Bower were dropped for technical reasons:

The Erie County District Attorney's Office dismissed the charges against Bower in February 2001. Officials said state police had contaminated the evidence by logging on to Bower's computer before making a secure copy of what was on Bower's hard drive when police arrested him.

After some counseling, Bower had resumed saying mass at the Newman Center and other places until last week. On April 21, he resigned from active ministry as a consequence of what Bishop Donald Trautman called "recent publicity" concerning his arrest.

Note: the pertinent articles can be viewed by clicking on this user-unfriendly site and typing "Beres" into the Search text box.

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