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The Case of the Kiddie Porn Padre

Chicago- A Roman Catholic hospital chaplain downloaded sexually explicit pictures of children from the Internet to his personal laptop computer, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Rev. Daniel Schulte, 53, a Vincentian priest who formerly was one of four chaplains at St. Alexius Hospital in Hoffman Estates, is charged with one count of possession of child pornography.

Schulte’s order, the Congregation of the Mission, removed him from ministry in March 2005, soon after an Internet service provider notified superiors that the images had been accessed, said Rev. Raymond Van Dorpe, assistant provincial for the order’s Midwest province.

Van Dorpe said Schulte’s superiors confiscated the computer, discovered the images and turned the computer over to the FBI. The order has received no complaints of other sexual misconduct involving minors by Schulte, he said.

“The provincial superior immediately removed Father Schulte from active ministry and placed him on precautionary administrative leave,” Van Dorpe said in a statement. “Father Schulte was moved to St. Louis where he could be supervised and where his access to the Internet could be supervised.”

Priests with the Congregation of the Mission are known as Vincentians after the founder of the order, St. Vincent DePaul. Before the hospital hired Schulte, he served at a parish in southern Missouri. He served at St. Vincent DePaul parish in Lincoln Park in the early 1990s.

A spokesman for the Chicago Archdiocese said it most recently granted faculties to Schulte in September 2004, giving him permission to celebrate mass. The archdiocese was notified a year later that the priest had been removed from ministry and sent to St. Louis.

A hospital employee who worked closely with Schulte described him as a “phenomenal chaplain”-“caring, very open and nonjudgmental, always willing to help.” He said he was “extremely shocked” by the charges.

If convicted, Schulte could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and removed permanently from ministry.

“In established cases of child pornography, the province is committed to the permanent removal of members from active ministry and to supervising members as part of its promise to protect God’s children,” Van Dorpe said.

Victims advocates expressed disappointment that the religious order waited for criminal charges to announce the priest’s removal instead of publicizing it when it happened.

Schulte’s attorney, Patrick Cotter, declined to comment Tuesday.

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