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Priest sex abuse victim pleads guilty to child porn

Rochester, N.Y.-- A teenager who was sexually abused by a priest will now spend ten years in federal prison for sexually exploiting other children. Paul Hearty is now 37-years-old. He pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and will get an enhanced sentence in spite of letters written on his behalf from members of the Catholic Church.

"It's really a tragic day that we've come to this point," said Federal Judge Frank Geraci. He acknowledged the letters written by a Syracuse bishop and a Catholic priest from Rochester expressing the partial responsibility of the church for what happened but said the sentence is mandatory because it is Hearty's second offence.

Federal prosecutor Tina Lee said because Hearty himself was a child victim "he of all people would understand the pain sexually abused minors experience."

Hearty agreed. He told the court, "I am struggling against a wall of past trauma and fear."

He said he accepts full responsibility and apologized. "I ask forgiveness from those exploited by these events," he said.

More than a decade ago, Paul Hearty came forward to say he was sexually abused as a teenager by a Rochester priest. Father William Lum later pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and Hearty received a settlement from the Catholic church.

Then in 2005, Hearty was sentenced to probation for possessing 26 computer images of children engaged in sex. This time he was found in possession of video tapes with similar material.

"People who are victimized will always be victims," said his attorney Lawrence Kasperek.

Hearty will have to register as a sex offender and serve an additional 15 years probation.

Jane Flasch, 13WHAM-TV
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