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Press Release

Retired St. Louis Priest Admits Possessing Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS –A retired St. Louis priest pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday and admitted possessing thousands of images containing child pornography.

James T. Beighlie, 72, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography in front of U.S. District Judge Matthew T. Schelp. In his plea agreement, Beighlie admitted that on May 17, 2021, while he was working at the Congregation of the Mission in St. Louis, colleagues found compromising images of Beighlie on a church printer.

The church launched an internal investigation that included a review of four desktop computer towers, a laptop and a smartphone used by Beighlie. When a private IT support company found what appeared to be videos of minors engaging in sex acts, an attorney for the church contacted the FBI.

About 6,000 images of child sexual abuse material were found on one computer, including about 3,000 images containing child pornography and 2,992 images of child erotica, Beighlie’s plea says. There were also two PowerPoint presentations created by Beighlie that linked to thousands of the images. Another computer had 236 images and 40 videos containing child sexual abuse material.

Beighlie is scheduled to be sentenced January 10.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Lang is prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated October 12, 2022

Project Safe Childhood