The worst part about certain offenses when they come from the church and via those who are supposed to be devoted to God is the fact that it hurts the historic Christian faith when exposed. Many priests, for instance, must endure snickering and innuendo that is nothing short of revolting just because of the actions committed by a few pedophile priests.
Sadly, such taunting and mocking is not soon to stop in Illinois as Rev. Gerald Hechenberger, 54, “faces 16 felony child porn charges as well as a methamphetamine possession charge,” Fox News reports. The Roman Catholic priest has managed to reinforce a devastating stereotype that haunts the church and works to lead many away from the teachings of Christ.
The man had served at no less than three different locations and faced arrest Monday “after a search warrant was executed at a church rectory in Mascoutah, Ill,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has confirmed. His sins were so severe that Hechenberger is charged with “eight counts of dissemination of child pornography, seven counts of possession of child pornography (photos), one count of possession of child pornography (video) and possession of methamphetamine.
He is being held on a $2 million dollar bond.
The Belleville Police Department was fortunate enough to get a tip from the group “Internet Crimes Against Children” saying that a certain person was “distributing child pornography.” As the law demands, the police obtained a warrant before doing anything with the information.
When they did act, they found “drug paraphernalia, images of child pornography and meth.” It is said that “a few electronic devices” were also taken, so there may be even more filth involved than we already know of to be found. It is known that all of the images were of children under the age of 13.
It is not even known for sure if the priest took the photos himself or if they were supplied to him by other means. “It is unknown at this time if Hechenberger produced any of the images himself, or if he has had any inappropriate contact with children directly,” the police have said in a statement.
It also reads, “Although Belleville Police do not have knowledge of any additional victims, we release this information and encourage parents to speak to their children if they had any contact with Hechenberger. Parents or guardians should immediately report any suspicions to the Belleville Police Department.”
If there is to be any good news found within this sordid tale, it is the fact that only this one priest is suspected of doing anything wrong in the house of worship as the investigation moves onward. Bishop Edward K. Braxton of the Belleville Diocese fully understands the seriousness of the offenses and is cooperating willingly in all ways with law enforcement.
Sources have confirmed also that the offender was the “associate pastor at St. Liborius Parish and St. Pancratius Parish,” as well. One’s skin begins to crawl when the full number of people potentially darkened by this man is taken into account. In the past, Hechenberger has dealt with depression and “needed time off.” It is not known if his mental state was connected in any to his crimes.
What is understood, however, is that there is one less man of God disgracing his faith by embracing a sexual interest in children that is utterly nauseating. Hopefully, we won’t be hearing about anymore in the near future.
Sources: Fox News – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch