Suspended Chester County priest pleads guilty to child pornography charges
A suspended Chester County priest pleaded guilty Monday to federal child pornography counts and charges of destroying evidence.
Mark Haynes, 56, previously of SS. Simon and Jude Parish in Westtown, admitted trading hundreds of pornographic images of children over Instagram and enticing teenage girls he met online to send him explicit photos of themselves.
He contacted the teens while posing online as a 16-year-old girl named Katie Caponetti between 2010 and 2014.
“He has accepted responsibility for what he has done,” said Haynes’ lawyer, Alan J. Tauber. “He is very remorseful, and he is prepared to accept the consequences.”
Prosecutors said Haynes had illicit online contact with 25 minors. Federal investigators previously stated that they had received a host of additional allegations against Haynes since his arrest last year, including reports from three accusers who said the priest molested them in the 1990s.
Haynes has denied that he sexually abused anyone, and prosecutors did not charge him in connection with those allegations, saying they appeared to fall outside the statute of limitations.
Haynes also admitted Monday that he attempted to destroy a laptop containing evidence against him after federal agents searched his home.
He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison on the child pornography charges. U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell set his sentencing hearing for Sept. 10.
Archdiocesan officials suspended Haynes shortly after his arrest. He had worked in eight suburban parishes since his ordination in 1985.