A Franciscan priest who once taught at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs received a 20-year prison term, to be suspended after five years, on charges of possessing child pornography and risking injury to a minor in Connecticut.
The sentence on Thursday in New Britain, Conn., Superior Court stems from the 2011 arrest of the Rev. Michael Miller, who at the time was serving as assistant pastor of St. Paul Church in Kensington, Conn.
Police charged him with five felony counts of risking injury or impairing the morals of a minor.
The Hartford Courant reported Miller engaged in inappropriate Facebook chats with seven teenagers and wrote to a boy in graphic detail about sex acts he wanted to perform on the boy.
No illegal physical contact was alleged against Miller, 43, who pleaded guilty in May.
Miller taught at St. Francis in 1993 and again from 2000 to 2003. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2000.
At the time of Miller’s arrest, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo said the diocese was not aware of any misconduct allegations against Miller during his time at St. Francis.
No allegations have emerged in the Buffalo diocese since Miller’s arrest, either, said spokesman Kevin A. Keenan.
Miller belongs to the Franciscan Friars of St. Anthony of Padua Province USA, Order of Friars Minor Conventual, based in Ellicott City, Md.
A call to the provincial house seeking comment was referred to Maria Zone, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Zone issued the following statement:
“The Archdiocese of Hartford and the Franciscan Friars Conventual denounce his crime, and assure the public that he will never again function as a priest. We hope that his sentencing will bring some closure to the minors he hurt and their families. We will continue to pray for them so that they will continue to heal.”
Miller’s sentence also includes 20 years of probation and orders him to register as a sex offender for 10 years.