Providence priest arrested, federally charged with possession of Child Pornography
Jackson was released on an unsecured bond with electronic monitoring, and allowed to travel to Kansas to stay with a family member.
Providence, RI (WLNE) – A Rhode Island priest who was arrested on state child pornography charges is now facing federal charges.
The Department of Justice announced Father James W. Jackson appeared in U.S. District Court on Wednesday on a federal criminal complaint, charging him with distributing child pornography and possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography.
Jackson was released Wednesday on an unsecured bond with electronic monitoring. The federal judge granted him permission to travel to Kansas to stay with a family member.
Rhode Island State Police had previously announced that they arrested the 66-year-old priest on state child pornography charges. Father Jackson had been a priest at St. Mary’s on Broadway in Providence. The Diocese of Providence released a statement saying Jackson is no longer allowed in the ministry and the office of pastor.
Colonel James Manni of RISP said the Internet Crimes Against Children unit, or ICAC, had been investigating the transfer of child porn over the internet. Manni said ICAC traced the internet connection to 538 Broadway in Providence, which is the address of St. Mary’s Church on Broadway. ICAC task force members then served a search warrant at the church and rectory.
According to a news release from RISP, Father Jackson was identified as “the owner of digital media allegedly involved in the possession and transfer of child pornography and child erotica”. Father Jackson is charged with Possession of Child Pornography, Transfer of Child Pornography and Child Erotica Prohibited.
Following his arrest, Father Jackson was arraigned by Justice of the Peace Steven Crawford on the state charges. As part of his state-level bail conditions, Jackson cannot have contact with children younger than age 16, and there are restrictions on his internet access.
If convicted on the state charges, Jackson could face the following punishments:
- Possession of Child Pornography: a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or a prison sentence not more than 5 years
- Transfer of Child Pornography: a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or a prison sentence not more than 15 years
- Child Erotica Prohibited: a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or a prison sentence not more than one year
If convicted on the federal charges, Jackson could face the following punishments:
- Distributing Child Pornography: up to 20 years in prison, with a minimum mandatory incarceration of 5 years
- Possessing and Accessing With Intent to View Child Pornography: up to 20 years in prison
The Diocese of Providence released the following statement about the arrest of Father Jackson:
“A priest of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), Rev. James Jackson, FSSP, was arrested Saturday, October 30, by the Rhode Island State Police on charges related to the possession of child pornography. Jackson, who was pastor of Saint Mary’s on Broadway, Providence, has been prohibited from the sacred ministry and the exercise of the office of pastor by Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence.
Jackson was appointed as pastor of Saint Mary’s effective August 1, 2021. Prior to August 1, Jackson was assigned by the FSSP elsewhere outside the state.
Prior to his recent arrival in Rhode Island, the Diocese of Providence was presented a letter of suitability for ministry for Jackson by the FSSP. Saint Mary’s continues to be entrusted to the care of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, as it has been since June 2018.
The Diocese of Providence applauds the efforts of the Rhode Island State Police and the other law enforcement bodies involved in making this arrest. We look forward to working with law enforcement and the Attorney General to ensure the safety of children.
Bishop Thomas Tobin offered the following statement: “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 ICAC Task Force is part of Rhode Island State Police. ICAC’s focus is to identify suspects involved in child exploitation activities. The task force is made up of officers from the following police departments: Warwick, East Providence, North Kingstown, Portsmouth, Cranston and Bristol. ICAC also includes federal agents from U.S. Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Service.
Read the federal criminal complaint against Father Jackson at this link: James Jackson Federal Complaint_Redacted
*Note: We have redacted some of the details in the complaint due to the very graphic nature of the descriptions.