BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest who possessed more than 2,500 images of what investigators called the most disturbing child pornography they had ever seen has been sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole.
The Rev. W. Thomas Faucher pleaded guilty to five felonies including possessing and distributing child pornography and a drug charge earlier this year. During his sentencing hearing in Idaho on Thursday, Judge Jason Scott said Faucher fantasized about raping and killing young children, favored child pornography that depicted extreme violence and claimed in online chats to have mixed his own bodily fluids into the communion wine at his church.
Faucher, 73, told the judge he was “deeply sorry” and said he should be released on probation, claiming he could use his freedom to visit with victims of child pornography and then speak about the evils of child abuse.
“There are many people who will benefit if I am no longer in jail,” Faucher said. “There are no people who will benefit if I am in jail or in prison.”
Church officials say they will seek to have Faucher defrocked.
“While we cannot begin to fathom what brought Faucher to the point that he was able to enter into this evil and dark world, we are thankful for the efforts of the law enforcement community in doing what it can to protect our children from these crimes,” the Diocese of Boise said in a statement after the sentencing.
Garden City police detective John Brumbaugh said the investigation began with a tip about someone sending child pornography linked to Faucher’s email address. Investigators said they found files found on Faucher’s cellphone, computer and Dropbox account that were violent and torturous, some involving children crying or wailing.
“There is only one of them I really like, the one of the boy being beaten to death,” investigators said Faucher wrote.
The chats also included men talking about Satanism and blasphemy, and Faucher discussing fantasies about children at his church, Brumbaugh said.
Faucher’s attorney, Mark Manweiler, asked the judge for probation and sex offender treatment, calling Faucher a well-respected priest who fell into depression and alcohol abuse after his retirement. He said the priest had never abused children himself despite viewing the child pornography.
The judge said that didn’t lessen the severity of Faucher’s crimes, and noted that the retired priest had worked to deceive members of his parish about the nature of his crimes even after his arrest. Scott said he didn’t know if the people who wrote letters of support on Faucher’s behalf would have done so if they had known details about the case.
Before the sentencing, special prosecutor Kassandra Slaven asked for a 30-year prison sentence, including 20 before he would be eligible for parole. “It shakes the community. It shakes the members of the Catholic Church,” Slaven said. “... He portrays himself as a victim and is not at all accountable for his actions.”