The priest is facing federal charges of receipt and possession of child pornography. Receipt of child pornography carries a maximum penalty 20 years in prison and a mandatory minimum of five years behind bars, with a fine of up to $250,000. Possession of child pornography similarly carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Jackson was originally arrested in October 2021 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Providence, Rhode Island, where he served as pastor, after a search warrant that allegedly resulted in law enforcement agents finding child pornography on the priest’s laptop and external hard drive.
He was released from federal court in November 2021 and allowed to return to his home state of Kansas to live with a relative while waiting adjudication. His release included strict terms pertaining to the use of the internet and electronic devices, and the possession of further material involving child pornography.
According to a July 12 memo of the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island, while in Kansas, Jackson allegedly tried to access child porn again. The memo stated that “the child pornography investigation conducted by his agency identified internet activity linked to Mr. Jackson from May 2022 to June 2022 in which he allegedly engaged in accessing child pornography.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Rhode Island, Jackson admitted in a court hearing on Oct. 3, 2022, that the government could prove that he violated several conditions of his pretrial release, including a prohibition against “possessing any materials including videos, magazines, photographs, computer-generated depictions, or any other forms that depict sexually explicit conduct involving children,” together with a prohibition against having more than one device connected to the internet, as well as a requirement to “notify his supervising probation officer of all computers or electronic data storage devices where he was residing and to report any additional acquisitions.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Rhode Island has also said that the priest “admitted that the government could establish probable cause that he committed a new crime, to wit, possession of child pornography, while on pretrial release.”
Bishop Thomas Tobin offered the following statement at the time of Jackson’s initial arrest: “The use of child pornography is a serious crime and a grave sin. The charges against Father Jackson are very disturbing to all and must be taken very seriously. At the same time, I renew my pastoral concern and offer my fervent prayers for the good people of St. Mary Parish during this difficult time.”
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter also said in a statement at the time, “We, the FSSP, are shocked and saddened by news of Father Jackson’s arrest and the serious allegations against him. We had no reason to believe [Jackson] was engaging in any inappropriate behavior, let alone criminal conduct. Like all those accused of crimes, [Jackson] has a natural human right under both civil and canon law to the presumption of innocence and we will fully cooperate with the law enforcement authorities as they investigate this matter.”