March 31, 2014

MONTREAL – William Kokesch, a deacon in the Montreal Archdiocese, pleaded guilty in court on Feb. 21 to the possession, manufacturing and distribution of child pornography.

Court heard that 99,000 still images of children and 2,000 child porn videos, many of which showed the sexual exploitation of young girls, were found on the computer of the former director of communications for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

After receiving complaints from the public, on Dec. 21, 2012 police conducted a search of Kokesch's Pointe-Claire area home and office at St. Edmund of Canterbury Parish and discovered child pornography on Kokesch's laptop.

Kokesch was immediately relieved of all pastoral duties following his arrest.

Father Joe Sullivan recalls the day Kokesch was led away in handcuffs.

"I was in shock, complete disbelief," Sullivan said in an interview published on

Sullivan isn't the only one wounded by Kokesch's crimes. He estimated that as many as 25 per cent of his parishioners left the parish or the Church entirely following the arrest.

"When I stand at the altar I can't not notice the difference from what it used to be," said Sullivan. "It's a very honest reaction. If people are looking at the sanctuary during Mass, and in their mind's eye picture him there, I can see how that's a struggle for them."

Many families with children baptized by Kokesch have requested a re-baptism, the priest said.

"I can give all the canonical reasons in the world why I can't re-baptize, but we're dealing with the heart here," he said.

Kokesch is to appear May 26 for a pre-sentencing hearing.