Father Michael Volino, 42, who pleaded guilty to federal charges of possessing child pornography, was released from the Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex in White Deer, Pa., March 2 and must register as a sex offender, according to federal and state documents.
Prior to Father Volino’s release, his attorney, Michael DiPrima, had argued in state Supreme Court before Justice Harold Galloway that the priest should not have to register as a sex offender because of a discrepancy between state and federal child-pornography laws regarding the ages of minors. DiPrima said federal law considers it a crime to possess pornographic images of children younger than 18, while New York state law says it is a crime to have pornographic images of children younger than 16 or 17, depending on which statute is referenced.
“It is not our intent to be defiant with court orders,” DiPrima said following the Feb. 8 appearance.
State Assistant Attorney General Emil Bove said in Supreme Court that Father Volino was told at the time of sentencing that he must register as a sex offender. In agreeing with Bove, Galloway stated that when state legislators were discussing the creation of a sex-offender registry, they intended to require any New Yorker convicted of federal sex crimes after the registry went into effect to register as a sex offender in New York.
Father Volino’s status as a priest is still to be determined, according to Doug Mandelaro, diocesan spokesman. Upon his 2005 arrest, Father Volino was placed on administrative leave by the diocese and cannot perform any public ministry.
“He will remain on administrative leave after his release from prison until his status is determined by a process of internal review locally and at the Holy See in Rome,” Mandelaro added. “Rev. Volino would have the right under the church’s canon law to petition for redress if he did not agree with the final determination of his status.”
Mandelaro said that the diocese will cooperate fully with the conditions of Father Volino’s parole.
In December 2005 Father Volino was sentenced to 15 months in prison. His sentence also requires him to enroll in a sex-offender treatment program, have no ministry with minors younger than 18, not serve in any Catholic-school programs and have no unsupervised contact with minors.