The Rev. Stephen A Fernandes, a Catholic priest who pleaded guilty last year to downloading hundreds of pieces of child pornography, has not received any sex offender treatment in jail but has been taking computer classes, documents show.
The priest, who was pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church in New Bedford's far North End, amassed about 650 pictures and 114 videos before his arrest on Nov. 5, 2004.
Prosecutors said the Rev. Fernandes also posed as a young woman and convinced a 16-year-old boy he met in a chat room to masturbate in front of a video camera and e-mail him the video file.
His sex offender release notification, sent from the Dukes County House of Correction where the Rev. Fernandes is being held, to the Bristol County District Attorney's Office lists the programs he participates in as "Institutional Assignment: Laundry" and "Education: Computer." "It should be noted that there is not any Sex Offender Treatment Program at this facility," the letter says...
D. A. baffled why pedophile was sent to a "country club prison" with no Sex Offender Treatment Program
Bristol County District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. said yesterday that he is baffled as to why Judge Robert Kane sent the Rev. Fernandes to the jail on Martha's Vineyard.
"I have no idea why it happened," he said.
At the Rev. Fernandes' Nov. 28 sentencing hearing, prosecutors lobbied for a three-year term in a state prison. Judge Kane opted for eight months at Dukes County and a $20,000 fine. The terms of his four-year probation include 300 hours of community service, abstention from drugs and alcohol, sex offender treatment, and a ban on living with or having unsupervised contact with minors.
"The court hands down these conditions, then sends him to a place with no sex offender treatment," Mr. Walsh said. "That's very bizarre..."
Mr. Walsh said he does not know what sort of computer education the Dukes County House of Corrections offers, although he believes that the Rev. Fernandes should be kept away from any program involving computers...
The district attorney called Dukes County "the country club of houses of correction." A converted clapboard house built in the 1800s, the prison holds just over two dozen inmates and features amenities such as cable televisions in cells.
"I don't think Stephen Fernandes should be treated any worse than anyone else who has committed those crimes," Mr. Walsh said. "But I certainly don't want him to be treated any better..."Read the rest of this Standard-Times story here, and comment below.