Villanova University minister facing child porn charges

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Villanova University minister facing child porn charges. Gray Hall reports during Action News at 4pm on July 12, 2018. (WPVI)

A Villanova University campus minister is accused of an unthinkable and unholy crime.

Investigators accuse 51-year-old Timothy O'Connell of receiving and viewing child porn.

Timothy O'Connell


His arrest was the result of an FBI investigation into another suspect - who authorities believe O'Connell had contact with - and from whom he received sexually explicit images of children.

According to an affidavit, those illegal images were sent using a messaging app.

We went to O'Connell's home in Drexel Hill for reaction to the allegations but there was no answer. Neighbors describe him as a family man and say they are alarmed by the criminal investigation surrounding him.

"Well, I am very shocked. I have known his family just by being neighborly, I don't know him real well but they all seem nice. I would have never suspected anything like this if it is true. I hope it is not," said Bill Patton.

An affidavit revealed O'Connell's home, university office and vehicles were all searched.

Authorities say he confessed to receiving child porn and communicating with others about the exploitation of children.

According to court documents, he also admitted to being sexually attracted to a girl in the third grade that he babysat.

Villanova responded with a statement that says, "Villanova University is appalled and horrified by these allegations. The University has suspended this individual and he is not permitted to return to campus. Villanova is fully cooperating with the FBI in its investigation."

Investigators also say O'Connell used Villanova's secured internet account to access the illicit content of children. Court documents also say O'Connell used prepaid phones to hide his alleged illegal activities from his family.

Students we talked to say the allegations are disturbing and disappointing.

"I mean here we don't have many children walking around, so it would be more disturbing if it was like in a public school but yeah, it definitely gives you the heebie-jeebies," said Kendall Connolly.

"I thought it was really shocking. I think it is really against what campus ministry stands for and it's not the presence I would think of. I have never met him and it was nothing I was ever exposed to before, but it was surprising especially as a student here, it is not what I would expect," said Emily Scheuring.

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