Investigators say that when they knocked on the rectory door of St. Paul Parish last week, search warrant in hand, the priest there quickly gave up a secret.
Carey, 65, turned himself in to state troopers Tuesday morning, when he was arrested and held, with bail set at $100,000. He was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Superior Court in New London, where Judge Kevin McMahon refused a request to lower his bail. Carey’s attorney, Ronald F. Stevens, argued for a $50,000 bail, saying that Carey had no prior criminal arrests, was ill, and was not at risk of fleeing the state. Stevens said there are “no allegations of any inappropriate touching of children or anything of that nature.” But McMahon wouldn’t budge, saying that Carey was accused of a crime with “pretty substantial consequences” and transferred the case to the Part A courthouse, where more serious cases are heard. If Carey were able to post bail, the judge said, he would be barred from using the Internet and an iPhone as conditions of his release. “If he gets caught with one, he’s going to get buried,” McMahon said. Carey, dressed in a navy blue blazer and khaki pants, told the judge quietly, “I want to get help.” Tuesday afternoon, he posted bail and was released. Tip From L.A. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, state police began their investigation of Carey after Los Angeles police contacted them about a child pornography investigation with a possible suspect in Connecticut. On June 28, state police seized computers and other evidence from the St. Paul parish rectory at 170 Rope Ferry Road. Getting to the contents of the computers was not easy. Materials police wanted to view were in a hard drive that was password protected, the affidavit said. Aresco, the author of the affidavit, said Carey had to give him the password. Aresco said he found 338 files of suspected child pornography, including 275 photos and 63 videos. The children in the images appeared to be under the age of 16, some as young as 2 or 3. They were naked or partially clothed, posed suggestively, and engaged in “sexually explicit activity,” the affidavit said. America Online had submitted a report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about the possibility that child pornography had been sent to someone in California via an AOL email account linked to the rectory. According to the affidavit, Carey admitted to police that he was the user of that email account. He said he “never intentionally distributed child pornography” but recalled “sending the emails and stated that the individual requesting them was very persistent.” It could not be determined Tuesday afternoon whether California authorities arrested anyone in connection with the case. A spokesman with the Los Angeles Police Department on Tuesday referred all inquiries to LAPD Det. Tracie Noggle, who is mentioned in the affidavit. Noggle did not immediately return an email request for comment. Carey on Friday submitted his resignation as pastor of St. Paul to the Diocese of Norwich and it was immediately accepted. “He did what he thought was the right thing to do,” said Stevens, Carey’s attorney. “He didn’t want to bring on more problems for the church.” State police said the investigation is continuing and asked that anyone with information related to the case call them at 860-685-8190. Accountant Turned Priest Carey was ordained a priest in 1998 after a 25-year career as a certified public accountant in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Stevens said that immediately after posting bail Tuesday afternoon, Carey planned to attend a session with a mental health professional who he had been seeing for his addiction. “He feels very, very bad about this,” Stevens said outside the courthouse Tuesday as a somber Carey stood beside him. “He’s going to work for forgiveness for something that he’s dealt with all of his life in the ministry. It’s an addiction that he’s going through and he needs help for it.” Stevens said Carey has a host of medical ailments. He just completed chemotherapy for colon cancer, is diabetic, and recently had a heart attack. The charge against Carey, a class B felony, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years. A St. Paul parishioner, who declined to give her name, said she attended the arraignment Tuesday because she wanted to know more after hearing about the arrest. “It’s a very troubling issue,” she said. “It’s very shocking. He’s been an excellent priest and now we are just praying for him at this point.” Carey often gave thought-provoking homilies at mass, she said. “I feel bad that he’s thrown that all down the drain. I hope he gets the help he needs,” she said. The Rev. Michael R. Cote, bishop of the Diocese of Norwich, said through a spokesman that he learned of Carey’s arrest Tuesday morning. “These allegations are extremely serious and run contrary to everything we believe as a church,” Cote said in a statement. “To exploit children in that fashion is absolutely reprehensible. We pray the allegations are not true. “This is a sad moment for all of us.” Cote said. “We always hope we will never again hear about any investigations or allegations of misconduct by priests. For the parish community, for the priests of the diocese, and for me personally, it is extremely difficult. We are all saddened and deeply hurt.” Cote praised state police for their professionalism and pledged the support and cooperation of the diocese. The Rev. Joseph Whittel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in the Quaker Hill section of Waterford will serve as interim parish administrator at St. Paul, Cote said. By ALAINE GRIFFIN and DAVID OWENS The Hartford Courant 7:05 PM EDT, July 3, 2012