Father Mark J. Haynes, 55, an archdiocesan priest and parochial vicar at SS. Simon and Jude Parish in West Chester, was arrested late Wednesday evening, Oct. 22, by Chester County police and charged with six counts of possessing and disseminating child pornography.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia called the charges “serious and disturbing” in a statement Oct. 24. It said Father Haynes has been placed on administrative leave immediately and he no longer resides at SS. Simon and Jude rectory.
The statement said no allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have ever been lodged against the priest, and there were no prior indications he was involved with child pornography.
“The archdiocese is cooperating fully with law enforcement regarding this matter and remains fervently committed to preventing child abuse as well as protecting the children and young people entrusted to its care,” the statement read. “Child pornography is a scourge that must be eradicated.”
While on administrative leave, Father Haynes is not permitted to exercise public ministry, administer any of the sacraments, or present himself publicly as a priest.
He remains in Chester County Prison after failing to post 10 percent of bail set at $200,000.
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said in a statement that county detectives traced Father Haynes’ Instagram account as the source of sexually explicit photographs of children posted on the social media website.
“Every person who possesses child pornography is violating the rights and dignity of these young victims,” Hogan said. “Every person who disseminates child pornography is continuing the cycle of depravity that makes children around the world vulnerable. No matter whether you are rich or poor, young or old, clergy or layperson, the possession of child pornography will lead to arrest, shame and jail.”
Hogan added the investigation in the case is ongoing, and the archdiocese and SS. Simon and Jude Parish are cooperating fully in it.
“Given the number of parishes to which the defendant was assigned and his close proximity to children, we are concerned that other victims are out there'” Hogan said. “Anybody with information should come forward immediately.”
Ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 1985, Father Haynes has since had the following assignments: St. Ann, Phoenixville (1985-1989); Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Doylestown (1989-1991); chaplain, Archbishop Wood High School, Warminster (1990-1991); Office for Youth and Young Adults (1990-1992); St. John of the Cross, Roslyn (1991-1994); Office of the Metropolitan Tribunal (1992-2001); Our Lady of Good Counsel, Southampton (1994-2000); personal leave (2000-2001); St. Pius X, Broomall (2001-2005); Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Morton (2005-2009); Annunciation B.V.M., Havertown (2009-2013); personal leave (2013); and SS. Simon and Jude, West Chester (2013-2014).
The archdiocese invites anyone wishing to report a violation of “The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries” to contact the archdiocesan Office for Investigations at 1-888-930-9010.
To report an allegation of sexual abuse, contact your local law enforcement agency and/or the Office for Investigations.
Public notice, the archdiocese said, may be painful to victims of sexual violence and exploitation. To obtain support or assistance with victim services, contact the archdiocesan Victim Assistance Office at 1-888-800-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org.