ROCHESTER — In U.S. District Court Dec. 14, Judge David G. Larimer sentenced Father Michael J. Volino to 15 months in federal prison. The priest had pleaded guilty in May to one felony count of possession of computer child pornography.
Upon completion of his sentence, Father Volino must register as a sex offender, and he will be on supervised release for 10 years, Larimer said.
The judged ordered Father Volino to report to a federal prison within six to eight weeks to begin serving his sentence.
In May, the priest admitted that he possessed child pornography on his computer in October 2004. According to an FBI affidavit, an employee of the Diocese of Rochester had discovered pornography while servicing Father Volino’s computer in January 2005, and the diocese alerted authorities.
Father Volino had been parochial vicar at Greece’s St. John the Evangelist Parish at the time the charges were filed, and the diocese placed him on administrative leave, prohibiting him from public ministry.
Prior to his sentencing, an emotional Father Volino apologized for his acts.
“Your honor, I am sincerely sorry for all the harm and the damage I have brought about from my actions to the community, family, parents, friends and supporters, and parishioners,” he said.
The judge acknowledged that Father Volino was contrite, and added that no allegations of sexual abuse had ever been made against the priest. However, Larimer said he felt he had to sentence Father Volino to a prison sentence, partly in an effort to deter others from becoming involved in child pornography.
“This is not just about your viewing things in the privacy of the rectory,” Larimer said. “This business of child pornography harms children.”
The judge added that he wanted the priest to use his prison time to avail himself of psychiatric care.
After the sentencing, John Parrinello, the priest’s lawyer, noted that the priest could have been sentenced to as much as 37 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
“You can’t be happy when anyone is sentenced to prison, but by the same token, it could have been worse,” Parrinello said. He added that the prison where Father Volino will be incarcerated has not yet been determined.
Following the sentencing, the diocese released a statement noting that its review board and Bishop Matthew H. Clark will review the case internally in accordance with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” and the Code of Canon Law. Pending the outcome of the review, the bishop will send materials concerning Father Volino’s status to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.
The priest remains on administrative leave and cannot engage in public ministry, the diocese said.
Diocesan officials expressed gratitude to court officials and law-enforcement authorities involved in the case. Acknowledging that the situation has been painful for the Catholic community, officials expressed hope that “the process of justice will in some way assuage that pain and further the cause of healing.”