Priest Admits to Addiction and Asks Judge for Leniency

( – A Catholic priest operating out of Rhode Island who was charged with receiving adult materials featuring children in 2021 has asked the judge overseeing his case to hand down a five-year sentence. Father James Jackson, who has not served as an active member of the church since being arrested in 2021, is set to receive his sentence in a US District Court in Providence, RI, on December 13.

Jackson reportedly signed a plea deal on one federal charge under 18 U.S. Code § 2252, which pertains to the illegal possession of materials involving the exploitation of minors, at a hearing in June. US District Court Judge William Smith is currently expected to approve that agreement on December 13.

In August, Jackson penned a letter to the court expressing regret for his “vile sin” and the “immeasurable harm” he caused by possessing the materials. He claimed to suffer from an addiction to the illicit content and said he had been sexually abused as a child.
“I have sinned against God […] friends and family, former students and former parishioners,” the Catholic priest wrote. “I’m ashamed beyond any shame I’ve known.”

Jackson’s legal team attached the handwritten note of apology to a sentencing memorandum submitted to the court on December 11. In this document, Jackson asked the judge to approve a five-year prison sentence with subsequent supervised release afterward.

The investigation into Jackson’s wrongdoing dates back to September 2021. According to an official statement from the US Attorney’s Office, a detective with the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force identified an IP address that was actively transmitting and receiving adult materials featuring children the same month. They were able to track it back to Jackson’s lodgings in the rectory at St. Mary’s Church.

A court-approved search of Jackson’s computer and one external hard drive turned up a shocking 12,000 images and 1,300 videos. Many depicted young children in sexually graphic and violently abusive scenes. Investigators also found evidence that Jackson had already deleted hundreds of other files.

According to the US DoJ, a first-time offender charged under 18 U.S. Code § 2252 faces a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five years. However, courts have the right to hand down fines or extend the length of incarceration to 20 years, per sentencing guidelines.

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