Priest sentenced for child pornography said it was 'revenge' against God for poker losses

Priest sentenced for child pornography said it was ‘revenge’ against God for poker losses

Priest sentenced for child pornography said it was ‘revenge’ against God for poker losses

Mug shot of Kevin A. Gugliotta. (Credit: Wayne County, PA.)

A Catholic priest who moonlighted as a professional poker player has been sentenced in Pennsylvania for disseminating child pornography. Gugliotta had previously been suspended from ministry in 2003 for allegedly molesting a teenage boy in the 1980s. But because the incident occurred when he was still a layman and before he entered the priesthood, the Archdiocese of Newark ruled he could not be punished and quietly reinstated him in 2004.

HONESDALE, Pennsylvania  — A New Jersey priest says he was trying to get revenge on God for poker losses when he collected computerized child pornography at his weekend home in Pennsylvania, according to his attorney and court records.

Father Kevin Gugliotta was sentenced Thursday to 11½ to 23½ months in the Wayne County jail, receiving credit for 10 months he’s already served. He pleaded guilty in March to a single count of disseminating child pornography after prosecutors dropped dozens of other charges that he possessed and distributed child porn. He will also have to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years.

Pre-trial records show the 55-year-old Gugliotta told probation officers he felt God was attacking him when he lost poker tournaments and games, and got “revenge” by collecting the porn.

“That was his reason,” defense attorney James Swetz said. “He’s not happy that’s how he felt, as the judge indicated. There are other ways to handle issues and handle anger.”

Gugliotta frequently entered poker tournaments, and made more than $200,000 in lifetime winnings.

He won nearly $30,000 when he came in 5th place at the L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino in 2006, his largest ever paycheck for playing the game.

Jim Goodness, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Newark, said Gugliotta has been removed from public ministry since church officials learned of the investigation in September.

Additional discipline, including possible removal from the priesthood, is possible “now that the process in the courts have been completed,” Goodness said. “We’ve also kept Rome abreast of the situation.”

The Monroe County, Pennsylvania district attorney’s office last August was investigating child pornography and determined some had been uploaded to a computer at Gugliotta’s weekend home in Gouldsboro. The tiny Pennsylvania hamlet is about 90 miles west of Holy Spirit Church, where he served as parochial vicar in Union, New Jersey.

Monroe County authorities alerted those in Wayne County, who tried to search the Gouldsboro home in September. But authorities couldn’t find Gugliotta at home and couldn’t lure him there using a ruse so they could search the computer before he had a chance to destroy the evidence.

Wayne County authorities wound up tracking down the priest at the New Jersey church where they interviewed him and found his laptop computer in the church rectory.

Gugliotta had previously been suspended from ministry in 2003 for allegedly molesting a teenage boy in the 1980s. But because the incident occurred when he was still a layman and before he entered the priesthood, the Archdiocese of Newark ruled he could not be punished and quietly reinstated him in 2004.

He went on to have a long career in the priesthood, including ministering to youth groups.

“This priest’s actions support the victimization of children and must be severely punished,” Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards said in a statement. “With no one to watch child porn, our children would not be subject to the horrors of exploitation. I am very pleased he was caught.”

Crux staff contributed to this report.

Latest Stories

Most Read

Crux needs your monthly support

to keep delivering the best in smart, wired and independent Catholic news.

Latest Stories