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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Former Villanova University Campus Ministry Official Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Offense

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Timothy O’Connell, 52, of Drexel Hill, PA entered a plea of guilty before the Honorable Gerald J. Pappert on one count of receipt of child pornography. 

On February 10, 2018, the defendant received images depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of pre-pubescent children.  The victims depicted in the child pornography included a two-year old child identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in another child abuse investigation.  At the time he committed the crime, the defendant was employed as Associate Director of Campus Ministry at Villanova University.  On January 3, 2019, the defendant was indicted for receipt of child pornography. 

“Child exploitation is a pervasive problem that demands a sustained, aggressive response,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain.  “The allegations in this case are particularly disturbing due to the defendant’s history as a spiritual leader in a position of community trust at Villanova. We stand ready with our federal and local partners to identify and prosecute those who would prey upon minor children.”

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 United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's 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

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Villanova University Department of Public Safety, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Priya T. De Souza.

Project Safe Childhood
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19106 JENNIFER CRANDALL Media Contact 215-861-8300 If you have not done so already, follow @USAO_EDPA and @USAttyMcSwain to get the most up-to-date information about big cases and community news.
Updated June 11, 2019