Philadelphia priest arrested on child pornography charges, put on leave

Fr. Mark J. Haynes (CNS/Courtesy Philadelphia archdiocese)

Philadelphia — Fr. Mark J. Haynes, 55, a Philadelphia archdiocesan priest and parochial vicar at a West Chester parish, was placed on administrative leave immediately after he was charged with six counts of possessing and disseminating child pornography.

Chester County police arrested Haynes, who had been at SS. Simon and Jude Parish in West Chester since 2013, on Oct. 22.

The Philadelphia archdiocese called the charges "serious and disturbing" in a statement Friday. Besides being placed on leave, Haynes no longer lives at the parish rectory.

The statement said no allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have ever been lodged against the priest, and there were no prior indications he was involved with child pornography.

"The archdiocese is cooperating fully with law enforcement regarding this matter and remains fervently committed to preventing child abuse as well as protecting the children and young people entrusted to its care," the statement read. "Child pornography is a scourge that must be eradicated."

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While on administrative leave, Haynes is not permitted to exercise public ministry, administer any of the sacraments, or present himself publicly as a priest.

He remained in Chester County Prison after failing to post 10 percent of bail set at $200,000.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said in a statement that county detectives traced Haynes' Instagram account as the source of sexually explicit photographs of children posted on the social media website.

"Every person who possesses child pornography is violating the rights and dignity of these young victims," Hogan said. "Every person who disseminates child pornography is continuing the cycle of depravity that makes children around the world vulnerable. No matter whether you are rich or poor, young or old, clergy or layperson, the possession of child pornography will lead to arrest, shame and jail."

Hogan added the investigation in the case is ongoing, and the archdiocese and SS. Simon and Jude Parish are cooperating fully in it.

"Given the number of parishes to which the defendant was assigned and his close proximity to children, we are concerned that other victims are out there,' " Hogan said. "Anybody with information should come forward immediately."

Haynes was ordained for the Philadelphia archdiocese in 1985. Since then he has served at seven parishes. He also is a former chaplain at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster; was on the staff at the archdiocesan Office for Youth and Young Adults; and for several years was in the Office of the Metropolitan Tribunal.

[Matthew Gambino is director and general manager of CatholicPhilly.com, the news outlet of the Philadelphia archdiocese.]


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