Former priest sentenced on child pornography charges

April 25, 2014

A former Roman Catholic priest in Charleroi, who was stripped of his collar in 2009 amid abuse allegations, was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for possession of child pornography.

David Dzermejko, 65, of Braddock, who was serving as pastor of Mary, Mother of the Church in Charleroi when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh suspended him, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer.

Dzermejko also faces 12 years of probation after his release from prison.

According to information presented in court, the FBI, Allegheny County district attorney’s office and officers with the Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force found Dzermejko with more than 100 photographs of child pornography on computers and computer-related equipment.

In November, Dzermejko admitted to federal investigators he had been viewing child pornography for more than a decade, and traveled numerous times to Thailand for sexual encounters with teenage boys, with some of whom he maintained an online relationship.

Investigators searched his residence Jan. 11, 2013, after Microsoft Corp. informed the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a user whose screen name was Lord Winchester Cuthbert Thurston VII had uploaded a nude image of a prepubescent child to SkyDrive, a file hosting service.

Dzermejko was removed from Mary, Mother of the Church four years ago, after a couple came forward and claimed the priest molested their son, who is deceased, at another parish three decades ago. Authorities never proceeded with criminal charges in the case because the statute of limitations expired, a diocesan spokesman said last year. After those allegations were made public, two other men came forward with similar accusations against Dzermejko.

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

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