West Palm Beach priest accused of exposing minor to porn - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

West Palm Beach priest accused of exposing minor to porn

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Members of the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church say they came to Tuesday night's 5:30 mass to hear a message, but it was not the one they expected.

"Shock, they were all really shocked, jaws dropped, when he read that statement. It made my stomach turn," said Gail Nininger, a church member of 17 years.

Nininger says church members were told about Father Jose Palimattom's arrest. The priest appeared in court Tuesday morning. Esther Berremeda was one of many learning of the news from Father John at mass. "That there would be healing and and restoration, Father John said," said Berremeda.

The 48-year-old priest serving a two-year contract with a West Palm Beach church is facing serious accusations.

Father Jose Palimattom, who is visiting from India, is accused of exposing a minor to pornography. Earlier this week the priest, whose address is listed as Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, asked the alleged victim to help him remove items off of his cellphone, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The minor found roughly 40 pornographic images of nude preteen boys, but told the priest he was unable to delete them, the report states. He then reported the incident to the church's music director.

On his way home from church with his mother he told her about the incident, and she told his father who contacted the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. That evening the minor told police that he received a message on Facebook from the priest which said, “Goodnight, sweet dreams”.

Detectives then visited the church's pastor who said he had contacted his superiors and questioned Father Palimattom in the presence of two witnesses. The priest admitted that while residing in India he was involved with a minor male and was reprimanded, but it was not reported to law enforcement, the affidavit says.

Investigators say when they questioned Palimattom, he admitted viewing child pornography as a “curiosity”, but he denied ever sexually molesting a child. He also admitted asking the minor to remove the images and that while he knew the victim's age he considered him to be mature and viewed him as an adult, the report states.

The sheriff's office arrested Palimattom and charged him with one count of obscenity-- protection of minors.

The Diocese of Palm Beach says Father Palimattom has been removed from his duties.

The Diocese of Palm Beach released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“The Diocese of Palm Beach is greatly concerned and takes very seriously the charges against Father Jose Palimattom, OFM. Father Palimottom is a priest of the Franciscan Province of St. Thomas the Apostle in India and began serving in December 2014 at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in West Palm Beach, a parish of the Diocese of Palm Beach. Father Palimattom was arrested yesterday on charges of possession of pornography and distributing it to a minor. Upon learning about the allegations, the Diocese of Palm Beach immediately contacted authorities and cooperated in the investigation conducted by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. This cooperation resulted in the arrest of Father Palimattom. The Diocese of Palm Beach completes a thorough screening of visiting priests and religious before granting them faculties to minister or celebrate sacraments within its diocese. As part of its due diligence, the diocese completed a background screening which also included a screening in India, and received a Certificate of Aptitude from the Minister Provincial in India. During this background process, no prior misconduct was revealed. Bishop Gerald Barbarito wishes to assure the faithful community that this allegation is being taken very seriously and expresses sincere regret to the family involved and all the faithful hurt by this regrettable matter. The Diocese of Palm Beach encourages anyone who may have additional information on this or similar matters to contact the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office at 561 688-3400 and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Palm Beach at 561-775-9500.”

Copyright 2015 WFLX. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by Frankly

1100 Banyan Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 Raycom Media. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.