Indian priest arrested in US for showing child pornography
West Palm Beach: A Franciscan priest from India was on Monday arrested in the United States for showing child pornography to a minor boy.
Father Jose Palimattom, a member of the Order of Friars Minor, has been serving at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in West Palm Beach, Florida, since December 2014.
The 48-year-ol priest was accused of showing child porn to a 14-year-old boy, report agencies.
Police say he admitted to showing the teen, church member underage porn. Police say it was the child’s father who alerted authorities. Fr Palimattom was in court Tuesday.
According to the police report, the Indian priest also got in trouble in India for being involved with an underage boy while working there. That incident was not reported to law enforcement.
The Diocese of Palm Beach County issued this statement on Tuesday.
“The Diocese of Palm Beach is greatly concerned and takes very seriously the charges against Father Jose Palimattom, OFM. Father Palimottom is a priest of the Franciscan Province of St. Thomas the Apostle in India and began serving in December 2014 at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in West Palm Beach, a parish of the Diocese of Palm Beach. Father Palimattom was arrested yesterday on charges of possession of pornography and distributing it to a minor.
Upon learning about the allegations, the diocese immediately contacted authorities and cooperated in the investigation conducted by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. This cooperation resulted in the arrest of Father Palimattom.
The diocese completes a thorough screening of visiting priests and religious before granting them faculties to minister or celebrate Sacraments within its diocese. As part of its due diligence, the diocese completed a background screening which also included a screening in India, and received a Certificate of Aptitude from the Minister Provincial in India. During this background process, no prior misconduct was revealed.
Bishop Gerald Barbarito wishes to assure the faithful community that this allegation is being taken very seriously and expresses sincere regret to the family involved and all the faithful hurt by this regrettable matter.
According to the report, Palimattom had asked the victim for help in deleting some items off of his cellphone.
While attempting to remove the items, 40 thumbnails appeared which included child pornographic images and words including “little boys,” and “young boys 10-18 yoa,” the report by deputies said.
In returning home, the victim’s father was told of the incident and he immediately called the police.
The police said the teenager received a text message from Fr Palimattom that said, “goodnight, sweet dreams.”
Fr Palimattom reportedly admitted to asking the victim for help in deleting items off of his cellphone and also admitted that while in India he was involved with a minor male and was reprimanded by his superiors. However that incident was not reported to law enforcement, the report said.
In a taped statement, Fr Palimattom admitted to viewing child pornography privately as a “curiosity,” and stated while he knew the victim’s age, he considered him to be mature and viewed him as an adult, the report by deputies added.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP, has responded urging that Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito “emphatically beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by the priest to call law enforcement. He should put notices about the priest in every parish bulletin and church website,” the support group said in a release, wpbf.com reported.