STRONGSVILLE, OH — A priest formerly based in Strongsville has pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking, the Department of Justice announced.
Robert McWilliams, 41, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, and one count each of transportation of child pornography, receipt and distribution of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and possession of child pornography.
McWilliams will be sentenced on Nov. 9, 2021. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
McWilliams pretended to be a woman online and then had sexually explicit chats with juvenile boys, court documents said. Some of McWilliams’ victims were boys he knew because he served as a priest in their parishes, the court documents said.
While posing as a woman, McWilliams would entice the boys into sending explicit photographs and videos of themselves, prosecutors said. He would occasionally threaten to expose embarrassing information about the boys if they did not send the images, court documents said. Some of the boys’ mothers did receive explicit photos and videos of their children from McWilliams, prosecutors said.
The affidavit against McWilliams alleges that he was in possession of or distributed approximately 1,700 images and videos of child pornography.
The priest is also accused of using Grindr.com to meet up with a juvenile boy and pay for sex, prosecutors said. McWilliams reportedly met with a teenager multiple times and paid the teenager for sex each time, court documents said.
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