Cleveland, Ohio, Nov 10, 2021 / 16:01 pm
On Tuesday, Father Robert McWilliams was sentenced to life in prison on convictions of sex trafficking of youths under 18, child pornography, and sexual exploitation of children. The verdict was handed down in the U.S. District Court in Akron, Ohio.
McWilliams, 41, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland in May 2017, and served at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville, Ohio, until he was arrested in December 2019. In July of this year, he pled guilty to eight federal charges.
According to court documents, McWilliams had thousands of photos and videos of child pornography, which were located and seized from a search at McWilliams’ residence at St. Joseph Catholic Church in 2019. Authorities also alleged that McWilliams forced teenage boys to provide him with sexually explicit images, and “paid two boys below the age of 18 for sex acts,” according to an Associated Press report.
A 26-page sentencing brief includes the experiences of at least five victims, all of whom were minors. The brief also states that McWilliams was using apps like “TextMe” and “TextNow” to hide his phone number when communicating with minors. McWilliams reportedly used Dropbox to store more than 128,000 images of child pornography.