MONTREAL – William Kokesch, a Montreal permanent deacon who served nearly 10 years as a communications director for Canada's Catholic bishops, faces child pornography charges.
On Dec. 27, Kokesch, 65, was released on bail after posting a $10,000 cash bond. The judge ordered him not to use computers or be around anyone under 18 without adult supervision.
The married father of five grown children will next appear in court Feb. 27.
Kokesch, who was ordained to the diaconate in 1981, spent the Christmas holidays behind bars after being arrested Dec. 21 and charged with the production and distribution of child pornography.
Information revealed during a bail hearing was placed under a publication ban at the request of Kokesch's lawyer.
Montreal Police Service communications Const. Danny Richer told CCN several people have contacted the police with information concerning the case since news broke of Kokesch's arrest Dec. 21.
Investigators have met with them and "are trying to analyze the new information," he said.
Richer said members of the public are urged to contact their local police station or the Montreal Police Service at 514-393-1133 if they have more information.
On Dec. 21, police conducted searches of Kokesch's church office at St. Edmund of Canterbury Parish in Beaconsfield and of his home in Pointe Claire, Richer said. The search came after police received a complaint from the public.
They discovered more than 2,000 child pornography images on a computer and other information devices they seized in the search, he said.
The Montreal Archdiocese removed Kokesch from "all ministry and pastoral activity" upon learning of his arrest, according to a Dec. 22 statement.
"Having just learned of the charges against Mr. Kokesch, the diocese is profoundly upset," said the statement. "Child pornography is an affront to human dignity, and our first concern rests with those who are its victims."
"We wish to assure all those concerned by this event that we are keeping them in our prayers, and we urge everyone to have confidence in and respect for the judicial process and to await its conclusions," said the statement.
Kokesch had extensive media experience, starting from his work as a reporter for the Montreal Gazette in the 1970s, then as a radio reporter. He worked from 1995-2005 as English sector communications director for the CCCB, fielding many of the questions about the sexual abuse crisis in the early 2000s.
Kokesch lost his job at the CCCB in early 2005 during a major restructuring of the Ottawa secretariat.
In recent years, he operated an independent communications company serving primarily charities and churches.
Reporters descended on St. Edmund's parish the weekend of the arrest, but few parishioners would consent to being interviewed and then only without releasing their names. Most expressed disbelief and shock.
Montreal diocesan spokesman Eric Durocher told the QMI news agency Kokesch coordinated the church's altar service and worked closely with the parish priest.