MONTREAL — A well-known Montreal-area Deacon who once spoke on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been charged with production and distribution of child pornography.
William Kokesch, 65, appeared in a Montreal courtroom Saturday afternoon via videoconference. The day prior, based on a tip from the public, Montreal police searched two locations in the city’s west end, including Kokesch’s home, and allegedly found more than 2,000 child porn images.
Montreal police spokesperson Dany Richer wouldn’t give details about Kokesch’s alleged victims. Nor would he say if any of the children in the images seized from Kokesch’s home were members the church.
Before his arrest, Kokesch was Deacon at St. Edmund of Canterbury, a Catholic church in the town of Beaconsfield, which is on the island of Montreal. Kokesch used to work as spokesman for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and was involved in the World Youth Day celebrations in the cities of Cologne, Toronto, Paris and Rome.
The Archdiocese of Montreal announced Saturday afternoon in a news release that it “removed (Kokesch) from all ministry and pastoral activity.”
“Having just learned of the charges against Mr. Kokesch, the diocese is profoundly upset,” reads part of the statement. “Child pornography is an affront to human dignity, and our first concern rests with those who are its victims.”
Kokesch also used to work as a journalist for several Montreal-area media organizations.
Bob Benedetti, Beaconsfield resident and the town’s former mayor, worked with Kokesch in a Montreal newsroom in the early '80s.
Benedetti said he was “completely shocked” at the news that his former colleague was charged with production of child pornography.
He said Kokesch was well known in the Beaconsfield community.
“I knew him as a good guy,” Benedetti said. “He was a straight arrow — if you’d ask me who was the least likely person to be involved with (child pornography), I would have said Bill Kokesch.”
Members of the St. Edmund’s parish who were reached by QMI Agency on Saturday also expressed shock at the news.
“You’ve got to be kidding, I don’t believe that at all,” said Dianna Poisson, president of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, a St. Edmund church group.
Kokesch will remain in jail until his next court appearance, which is scheduled for Monday.
Calls placed to Kokesch’s home were not answered.