Delaware priest indicted on federal child porn charges




Amy Cherry Via WDEL


A former principal at Salesianum School and priest at DeSales University, who was an adviser to the Royal Family in Monaco, was indicted Thursday on child pornography charges in Philadelphia.


Rev. William McCandless, 56, who's a member of the Wilmington-based Oblates of St. Francis, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of collecting thousands of images of child pornography while serving overseas and bringing them with him to the U.S.


McCandless pleaded not guilty to the counts during an initial court appearance in Philadelphia. He is charged with possessing child porn for importation into the Unites States, transporting child porn in interstate and foreign commerce, and attempting to access with intent to view child porn.


Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said McCandless amassed his collection while serving as an advisor to the Royal Family in Monaco, noting it included items that can be described “as the torture of very young children.”


McCandless' attorney, John Waldron, said his client did not try to evade charges, despite knowing about the investigation for more than three years.

He was placed on home detention with electronic monitoring and was ordered to surrender his passport because he has frequently traveled overseas and has numerous contacts abroad.


In a statement sent to WDEL, Salesianum officials said they weren't aware of the exact nature of the charges until Thursday due to "secrecy" that surrounds federal investigations and grand jury proceedings.


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"The federal prosecutor assigned to the case assured the school that none of the alleged crimes in the indictment occurred by Fr. McCandless involved any Sallies students nor did they allegedly occur during his time presiding over the school," a statement from the school read.


But Salesianum has hired Freeh Sporkin and Sullivan (FSS), a law firm founded by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which began an independent review last month into Father McCandless' time at Salesianum to confirm the government's information. Preliminary findings to date confirm the federal government's assertions.


"Salesianum very responsibly asked us to review whether there were any indications of improper activity during McCandless’s time at the school. We have had complete cooperation and transparency from the school and its leadership," said Gregory Paw, FSS partner who's the lead investigator on the case.


Father McCandless served as principal at Salesianum from 2005 to 2010, but was employed by the school on three separate occasions for a total of 11 years.

In light of the federal child pornography indictment filed in Pennsylvania against

McCandless, the Delaware Department of Justice is reminding the public of a dedicated DOJ hotline and e-mail address for potential victims of abuse to contact .


The Department is closely monitoring this matter and asks any potential victims to contact (302) 577-5293 or ReportAbuse@delaware.govto provide information to prosecutors and investigators. This hotline and e-mail address will remain open indefinitely for any victim of sexual abuse, regardless of their abuser.

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