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Former Morris priest pleads guilty

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Morris,Minnesota 56267
Morris Sun Tribune
Former Morris priest pleads guilty
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

A former Morris priest charged with possessing pornographic images of children on computers has pled guilty as part of a plea agreement.


John Lloyd Caskey, 53, was charged with 20 counts of possessing child pornography in Stevens County District Court earlier this year.

On Wednesday, he pled guilty to the first three counts and admitted possessing the images of minors, according to Stevens County Attorney Charles Glasrud.

Based on sentencing guidelines, it's likely Caskey will received a stayed sentence and will be placed on probation, Glasrud said.

Caskey is expected to be sentenced in October, Glasrud said.

Caskey was facing five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine for each count.

Caskey was priest at Assumption Church in Morris and Associate Pastor in Chokio and Herman. He was officially installed Sept. 16, 2007. He left Assumption in December 2007.

After being charged, Caskey was released on conditions, which included that he may not possess pornography, he is to have no contact, supervised or unsupervised with anyone under the age of 18 and no access to computers or the Internet.

Daniel Eller, Caskey's attorney, reported earlier this year that the St. Cloud Diocese arranged for Caskey to be evaluated at Saint Luke Institute, a part of the Maryknoll Center in Silver Springs, Maryland.

The center was to complete a four-day evaluation of Caskey.

John Kinney, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, said earlier this year that Caskey was relieved of his duties as a priest when Kinney learned of the charges.

"I was taken by surprise by these allegations," Kinney said in his statement at the time. "I have not received any complaints in the past about (Father) Caskey from any of the parishes he has served nor have I had any information that would cause me to be concerned."

Caskey served three years as Associate Priest at Assumption in the early 1980s before moving on to several other assignments. Over 25 years, Caskey has served as a military chaplain and as a pastor in numerous communities, including Browns Valley, Browerville and Clarissa.

The complaint against Caskey stated that in September 2007, the Stevens County Sheriff's Office received a complaint that an 18-year-old male had received anonymous, obscene and suggestive letters.

The investigation led Sheriff Randy Willis to interview Caskey on Nov. 30, 2007. Caskey admitted sending the letter, but "He denied that he'd done anything like this for many years," the complaint stated.

Caskey also signed a consent allowing law enforcement to search his home and work computers. Capt. David Wyffels, of the Willmar Police Department conducted a forensic examination of the hard drives from the computers.

Wyffels' investigation revealed a "large number" of pornographic images on his home computer, and it was concluded that the images were entered into the computer while it was under his control. The images were almost exclusively of males, many depicting persons "obviously" under age 18, according to the complaint.

Wyffel's investigation showed that some files had been deleted, leaving only partial images on the hard drive. In all, 8,671 "suspect" images were given to the Stevens County Sheriff's Office for review, the complaint states.

Descriptions of the images in the complaint indicate that the images depict minors engaged in explicit sexual acts or poses, according to the complaint.

"The possession of this volume of such material, and the manner of its storage demonstrates knowledge by Defendant of the material's contents," the complaint states.

Kinney stated that he is "committed to the safety of all those entrusted to our care. I take that responsibility seriously and have taken many steps to ensure that our children and others are safe."