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Press Release

Former DeSales University Priest Sentenced

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

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced today that William McCandless, age 59, of Elkton, Maryland, a former DeSales University priest, was sentenced to 37 months’ imprisonment followed by 15 years of supervised release. He is also required to register pursuant to the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act.

On May 27, 2022, McCandless pleaded guilty to access and attempted access with intent to view child pornography. In 2017, McCandless searched for images of young boys and accessed over 3000 web pages depicting and offering child sex abuse images. He also accessed dozens of stories which graphically detailed and described the sexual torture of young boys.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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

“Those in positions of power and trust should never put the safety of our children in peril,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “The actions taken by the defendants in Project Safe Childhood cases cause trauma and heartache for the victims and their families. Our office will continue pursuing these cases to help ensure our communities are safe.”

“For a priest and university faculty member to violate his position of trust by engaging in the depraved activity for which he previously pled guilty is reprehensible,” said William S. Walker, Special Agent in Charge for HSI Philadelphia. “Homeland Security Investigations and our law enforcement partners around the world will continue to coordinate closely to ensure our communities are protected from child predators who exploit vulnerable victims.”

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sherri A. Stephan.


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Philadelphia, PA 19106

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Updated January 24, 2023

Project Safe Childhood