Details of Kansas Investigation into Father James Jackson Emerge
Father Jackson was originally arrested at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Providence in October 2021 after law enforcement agents allegedly found child pornography on his laptop and external hard drive.
A Kansas police detective said that Father James Jackson was the “primary target” in a child pornography investigation run by a local police department, according to a court document in Jackson’s federal case in which he has pleaded not guilty to child pornography charges.
Information regarding the Overland Park Police Department’s investigation into Jackson came to light in a petition that Father Jackson’s federal probation officer issued to the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island where the priest faces the federal charges.
The probation officer’s July 12 petition cited the police department’s investigation as evidence that Father Jackson broke the conditions of his pretrial release that were mandatory while he was allowed to live in Leawood, Kansas, with his sister, pending adjudication of the federal charges.
Father Jackson was originally arrested at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Providence in October 2021 after law enforcement agents allegedly found child pornography on his laptop and external hard drive. Through his lawyer, John L. Calcagni III, Jackson is now asking the court to suppress evidence found by law enforcement during the search, citing a violation of the Fourth amendment.
In the petition, Father Jackson’s U.S. probation officer, David A. Picozzi, said that the U.S. Probation Office in the District of Rhode Island was contacted by Overland Park Police Department Detective Christopher Moore on July 11.
Moore told the office that there was a search warrant issued for Jackson’s residence in Leawood “in response to a child pornography investigation in which Mr. Jackson was the primary target,” the petition says.
“According to Detective Moore, the child pornography investigation conducted by his agency identified internet activity linked to Mr. Jackson from May 2022 to June 2022 in which he allegedly engaged in accessing child pornography,” the petition said.
The petition said that a search of Father Jackson’s residence resulted in the discovery of a Microsoft Surface Pro computer and an external hard drive, both of which were “seized.”
“Detective Moore noted that Mr. Jackson appeared to have tried to concealed/hidden the devices at the time of the search and also that he was not cooperative with officers throughout the search process,” the petition said.
Moore notified the office that Father Jackson was not arrested during the search and added that a forensic exam of his devices will be conducted, the petition said. Pending the exam, an arrest warrant could be issued, Moore said, according to the petition.
Around the time of Father Jackson’s arrest in July, Overland Park Police Major James Sutterby told CNA that the department had an ongoing investigation into Jackson but he would not elaborate on the details.
Sutterby could not be reached for further comment Thursday.
Jackson’s Oct. 5 motion to suppress the evidence found in the October 2021 search by law enforcement claims that the search warrant from the Rhode Island State Police was unconstitutional.
“In Mr. Jackson’s case, the search warrant showed the premises to be searched as multiple buildings housing a church, its offices, and residences of its priests, with no showing of any investigation or attempt to narrow down the visitor, employee, or priest who might have used the IP address assigned to the facilities, at the times in question, to view the alleged pornography or the location from which the viewing occurred,” the motion says. “Therefore, the warrant is in violation of the particularity clause regarding the place to be searched.”
The motion says that “The fact that an IP address serviced the buildings did not provide an objectively reasonable belief that probable cause existed for such an exhaustive search without any attempt to narrow down, or ‘particularly describe’ the place to be searched and the things to be seized.”
According to the federal court system PACER, responses to the motion are due Oct. 19.
Picozzi alleged in the petition that Father Jackson “accessed child pornography and is the target of a local/state law enforcement investigation.” The petition also says that Jackson “possessed and accessed computer equipment not authorized/approved by the” probation officer.
Following Picozzi’s petition, Jackson was subsequently arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service three days later.
In Father Jackson’s Oct. 3 court appearance at federal court in Providence, Rhode Island, he admitted that the government could prove that he violated certain conditions of his pre-trial release.
He is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
“Law enforcement made no effort to narrow down the potential defendant among the multiple employees and priests, and parishioners of the church, or the particular device that was involved in viewing the child pornography,” Jackson’s motion said.
“Whether they could have, like the name listed on the warrant, is ‘unknown,’ but they should have tried, and no showing was made in the warrant affidavit of any attempt to do so,” the motion said.
Father Jackson’s trial is set for November.
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