By Katy Moeller and Ruth Brown

The Idaho Statesman

BOISE, Idaho — The Rev. W. Thomas Faucher, a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise who also served in Sisters, was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for possessing and distributing child pornography and will be required to register as a sex offender.

“This is the crime that has the potential for both immediate and long-lasting consequences,” 4th District Court Judge Jason Scott said. “I think there is a legitimate risk to the community.”

Faucher, 73, was accused of amassing more than 2,500 child porn images and videos on his home computer — and pleaded guilty in September to two counts each of distribution of and possession of sexually exploitative materials and one count of possession LSD.

He apologized Thursday at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise. “I am deeply sorry that I was and have been connected to that in any way,” Faucher told the judge in a statement that lasted about 17 minutes. Faucher, a former priest at St. Edward the Martyr Church in Sisters and judicial vicar at the Diocese of Baker headquartered in Bend, said he was deeply struck by the victim impact statements and that he knows child pornography is not a victimless crime.

“I was one really sick puppy. I screwed up big time. I feel so much remorse and anger,” Faucher said at his sentencing.

“There are many people who will benefit if I am no longer in jail,” Faucher said, explaining that he’d like to help others. “There are no people who will benefit if I am in jail or in prison.”

A thinner and more frail-looking Faucher, who wrote religion columns for The Bulletin in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was wheeled into the courtroom in his jail uniform just before 9:30 a.m.

Garden City Police Detective John Brumbaugh, who has been on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for five years, testified he received a cybertip that involved two images sent from wtfauch@aol.com that was linked to the St. Mary’s Catholic Church website.

In the months that followed, Brumbaugh said, his investigation showed Faucher was “actively seeking interests with gay men, satanic interests” and the rape and killing of minors. He described the contents of the images police found on Faucher’s cellphone, computer and Dropbox account: They were sexually exploitative or pornographic with young-looking subjects. The files were described by police as violent, disturbing and torturous, some involving children crying.

In online chats with a person called “Bruno,” Faucher expressed a desire to have sex with boys, including some in his extended family, Brumbaugh said. Faucher said he had “satanic desires” and an attraction to 6-year-old boys, and that “the thought of killing someone does begin to excite me,” according to the detective.

Brumbaugh said Faucher’s online conversations about shared child pornography included the Catholic priest talking about fantasies, including the sexual abuse of altar boys and babies, and saying that he liked a video of a boy being beaten to death.

“The volume of (images) was something I haven’t come across,” Brumbaugh said, and added that the extreme nature of the images took a toll on himself and others involved in the investigation.

Other images the detective said the investigation found included depictions of black slavery, which Faucher spoke about using racist language, as well as images of Faucher urinating on a cross and canon law book. Faucher also wrote that he urinated in the wine for Mass at least once, Brumbaugh told the courtroom. Faucher talked to “Bruno” about betraying canon law, then blaming it on his age and illness, Brumbaugh said.

“It felt good to lie,” Faucher wrote in one of the conversations, the detective said.

Faucher later told Brumbaugh no one else had access to his email account, the detective said. Brumbaugh also said there was no evidence someone had remote access to Faucher’s computer nor evidence of a virus on the computer.

Special prosecutor Kassandra Slaven asked for a 30-year prison sentence, including 20 years before Faucher would be eligible for parole. She also requested a no-contact order be put in place with minors.

An evaluation concluded Faucher is on the upper end of the risk to reoffend and is less amenable to treatment, Slaven said, adding that he was diagnosed as a pedophile. She argued that his status as a priest is an aggravating factor.

“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.”

Faucher’s defense attorney, Mark Manweiler, had called for probation and sex offender treatment instead of prison time.

Manweiler said the evidence does not support that Faucher looked at all of the images on the computer. He also said that although Faucher looked at, possessed and shared child pornography, “he’s never sexually abused any child.”

“Tom isn’t a good person. He’s a wonderful person” who has helped hundreds if not thousands of people, Manweiler said. He also read from a letter of support from Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, who said Faucher has helped his family.

Manweiler emphasized what he says caused Faucher “to get into this world of Satanism and pornography”: that the priest of 45 years went from a position of power “to all of the sudden being nothing” and “he couldn’t handle it.” Manweiler said it was a combination of rejection by church officials, alcohol abuse and loneliness that caused Faucher to stray into Satanism and child porn.

In February, the Diocese of Baker issued a statement calling Faucher’s behavior inexcusable. In a statement released Thursday, the Diocese of Boise said, “The volumes of shocking information that the law enforcement investigation uncovered reveal the heinous nature of child pornography and the tragic impact upon its victims.” With the criminal proceedings complete, the statement said, Boise church officials plan to conduct an internal investigation it will turn over to officials in Rome.

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