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Attorney: Ohio priest to plead guilty to child sex charges

July 2, 2021 GMT

CLEVELAND (AP) — A Cleveland-area Roman Catholic priest intends to plead guilty to federal charges involving the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, according to his attorney.

Attorney Robert Dixon filed a motion Thursday saying Robert McWilliams will plead guilty to charges contained in an indictment without a plea agreement.

Dixon declined to comment on Friday.

McWilliams was accused by prosecutors in an indictment filed last July of posing online as a female to persuade boys to send him sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves and threatening to tell their parents if they did not send more images.

He followed through on his threats and sent some mothers images of their sons, prosecutors have alleged. Some boys McWilliams targeted belonged to parishes where he served.

McWilliams faces two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of transportation of child pornography, one count of receiving and distributing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of possession of child pornography.

Prosecutors alleged McWilliams paid a boy he met online for sex.

McWilliams was arrested in December 2019 outside Cleveland at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville, where he was parochial vicar at the parish school.