Prosecutor: South Boston priest downloading child porn when he was arrested

The computer at the South Boston rectory where the Rev. Andrew J. Urbaniak lives was downloading child pornography when Boston police detectives entered the building on Monday, a prosecutor said at Urbaniak’s arraignment today on child porn charges.

Urbaniak, 39, mostly kept his head down during his arraignment in South Boston Municipal Court where he pleaded not guilty to charges of possession and dissemination of child pornography. Judge Michael Bolden set bail at $10,000 cash.

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Rev. Andrew J. Urbaniak (Suffolk district attorney)

For the past four years, Urbaniak has been assigned to Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in South Boston where he is currently the pastor. In the wake of his arrest, the Archdiocese of Boston issued a statement saying Urbaniak is now on administrative leave and is banned from performing his religious duties as a priest.

“Urbaniak’s faculties have been suspended and he is not allowed to function as a priest in the Archdiocese,’’ the statement said. “The Archdiocese is fully cooperating with law enforcement. The Church prays for all those impacted by these events and is committed to providing for the pastoral care of the parish during this difficult time.’’

Urbaniak is a Franciscan priest whose religious superiors are based in Poland have been notified of his arrest, the archdiocese said.

In court today, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Kate Clayman summarized the case against Urbaniak, saying that a specialized State Police unit that tracks child pornography on the Web had discovered that the priest was accessing a site known as a source of child pornography.

The case was handed over to Boston police detectives who finished their investigation by obtaining a search warrant of the South Boston rectory and Urbaniak’s computer. Clayman said that when police checked his computer, it was actively downloading child porn.

Clayman also said that Urbaniak confessed to detectives that he had child pornography on his computer and that he had images of children around the ages of 8 and 9 years old on his computer.

Urbaniak’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Denner, said in court that he would not challenge the government's evidence against Urbaniak during the first court appearance in the case. He asked that bail be set at $3,500 cash.

Urbaniak has a “a long history of doing good’’ and has “devoted his life to good,’’ Denner said.

He said Urbaniak has been a priest for 14 years, and been living in the United States for the past 12 years. Two years ago, Denner said, Urbaniak became a naturalized US citizen.

In a statement, police said that no one has contacted them to report they were personally victimized by Urbaniak. The investigation is ongoing.

He was arrested following a two-month investigation by the Boston police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the State Police Crimes Against Children Unit.

Individuals who wish to provide investigators with anonymous information are encouraged to contact the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS or text the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463). The Boston Police Department will stringently protect the identities of those who wish to remain anonymous.