Father Mark J. Haynes

Father Mark J. Haynes

Father Mark J. Haynes was sentenced to 20 years in prison Feb. 17 in a federal court in Philadelphia following his conviction on charges of child pornography and destruction of evidence.

In addition to the jail term, U.S. District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick ordered the priest to pay a $15,000 fine and 10 years of probation after his release from prison.

The 56-year-old Father Haynes’ last assignment was at SS. Simon and Jude Parish in West Chester, where he was assigned in September 2013. He served there until his arrest on child pornography charges in October 2014, for which he pleaded guilty in court last June.

His arrest, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was the first time the church had “received any reports of potential criminal wrongdoing on his part,” said spokesman Kenneth Gavin. “It is hoped,” he added, that Father Haynes’ sentencing “will bring some degree of closure to what has been a very painful situation for all those involved.”

Father Haynes was removed from SS. Simon and Jude and placed on administrative leave immediately at the time of his arrest, according to the archdiocese. As a result he was not permitted to present himself as a priest, celebrate the sacraments or perform ministries, or live on any parish property.

The archdiocese, Gavin said, “cooperated fully with law enforcement at every step of its subsequent investigation.”

According to published reports, two victims alleged Father Haynes sexually abused them more than 30 years ago. Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations bars criminal charges and civil lawsuits stretching back long ago.

The archdiocese expressed its commitment to helping survivors of sexual abuse “on their journey toward healing, and (is) dedicated to ensuring that all young people in its care are safe,” spokesman Gavin said.

“Our path forward is to remain vigilant in our efforts now and in the years to come,” he added. The church provides resources to support survivors, its policy is to immediately report any allegation of sexual abuse involving a minor to law enforcement, with the aim of “restoring the trust of the faithful and all those who look to the Church as a beacon of God’s promise and love,” Gavin said.

“The reputation of the Church can only be rebuilt through transparency, honesty and a fulfillment of our responsibility to the young people in our care and the victims and survivors who need our support,” he said. “We recognize that today’s news is especially difficult for survivors and their families. We profoundly regret their pain.”

Father Haynes was ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 1985 and 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 philavac@archphila.org.