Catholic church response to deacon’s guilty pleaDecember 20th, 2012 at 11:53 am by Bob Grip under FOX10 News, Uncategorized
As we reported this week, Robert Nouwen, a deacon assigned to St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Mobile, pleaded guilty in Mobile Federal Court to child pornography charges. Court documents claim that on 7 occasions between January 17, 2011 and April 26, 2011, he ordered child pornography from a company based in Toronto. Nouwen now faces up to 10 years in prison and must register as a sex offender.
To learn more about the response of the Archdiocese of Mobile to the admission, I turned to Rev. James Cink, the pastor of St. Dominic Church and the Director of Child Protection for the Archdiocese. Here are my questions and his responses:
- Did he have contact with children at St. Vincent’s (either the school or the parish)?
- Bob Nouwen served at Mass but had no involvement with children or the school.
- Did his interest in child sexual matters extend beyond ordering videos from Canada?
- The investigation was conducted by federal authorities, through the US Postal Service and prosecuted by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama Southern Division. I believe you received their press release yesterday. I have no other information than what was released by that office.
- Had there been any complaints about him, prior to the videos?
- There have been no complaints regarding Bob Nouwen.
- When did the parish and/or Archdiocese learn of his involvement with child pornography? What action was taken then? Police tell me they knew nothing about the case.
- We learned of Nouwen’s involvement once the US Postal service obtained a search warrant. On the day of the execution of the warrant [according to court documents, the search warrant was executed on September 19, 2012] Nouwen was placed on Administrative leave, which means that he was prohibited from all ministry. Since the Federal Authorities were conducting the investigation, I do not believe that it was my responsibility to notify other law enforcement offices of a federal investigation, least my actions be seen as interference in an official investigation. The local District Attorney was notified before we approached the affected parish community.
- Have the parents at St. Vincent been notified about the reason for his retirement/resignation?
- Yes on Monday December 17 a meeting of parishioners and parents of children within our school was held at the parish. Notification of that meeting was announced at all the weekend Masses on December 15 & 16.
- How did he manage to make it through the child protection training? Is the process being re-examined now?
- Before Nouwen pleaded guilty to the possession of Child Pornography, he had no criminal record. Nouwen was cleared by both FBI and ABI background checks.