Ex-priest gets 5 years after using child porn images in PowerPoint presentations

A former Catholic priest in Missouri was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison after admitting to possessing thousands of images of child pornography.

James Beighlie, 72, pleaded guilty in October to two counts of possession of child pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri said in a statement.

In May 2021, while Beighlie worked at the Congregation of the Mission in St. Louis, some of his co-workers found compromising images of him on a church printer. After the church launched an internal investigation and found what appeared to be videos of minors engaging in sexual acts, an attorney for the congregation contacted the FBI.

Prosecutors said about 6,000 images of child sexual abuse material were found on one computer — including two PowerPoint presentations he had created that used some of those images. Another computer had more than 200 images, as well as 40 videos containing child sexual abuse material.

Beighlie later turned over to authorities an additional 18 thumb drives — some of which contained more images — the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, citing court documents.

During Tuesday’s hearing his attorney, J. Martin Hadican, argued for supervised release due to his deteriorating health.

“He has made a mistake and he realizes it,” the lawyer said. “He will be forever, for the rest of his life, be attached to that badge of shame.”

Beighlie told the court he felt “ashamed and deeply remorseful,” according to the Post-Dispatch.

But Judge Matthew Schelp told him the reason why child pornography exists is “because people like you seek it out, look for it, keep it, for their own personal pleasure.”

The former priest was also ordered to pay $4,750 to one of his victims and $22,000 that would go to a fund set up to help other victims.