A 96-year-old retired priest and one-time senior official of the Archdiocese of New York had a trove of child pornography on his computer and showed it to others at the retirement home for priests where he lived, prosecutors alleged on Tuesday.
Monsignor Harry Byrne faces 37 counts of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, Bronx D.A. Darcel Clark said in a statement. He allegedly had dozens of photos of girls as young as 8 either posing naked or engaged in sex acts with men.
Prosecutors also allege that Byrne viewed the images "in front of many individuals" at the St. John Vianney Center for Retired Priests, where he lives.
"People at the defendant's residence were subjected to it when they entered his room," Clark said.
He faces four years in prison if convicted of the top charge against him.
Byrne was the chancellor of the archdiocese from 1968-1970, a position that meant he oversaw the central administrative offices and official documents. A spokesman for the archdiocese said it was cooperating fully with prosecutors.
Byrne's attorney said the priest was currently being cared for in a medical facility.
"Monsignor Byrne has dedicated 72 years to charity and church with an unsullied history. He was ordained in 1945. It is difficult to imagine that at the age of 96+, this stellar member of the priesthood knowingly understood and is responsible for the content of the subject on a computer accessible to numerous people," his attorney said in a statement.