Parishioners were ‘stunned’ by news of priest’s arrest, spokesman says
The Rev. William Thomas Faucher is appealing the 25-year prison sentence imposed on him by 4th District Judge Jason Scott on Dec. 21.
The 73-year-old retired priest was charged with 24 crimes: 21 counts of sexual exploitation of a child (possession and distribution of child pornography) and three counts of drug possession (marijuana, LSD, ecstasy). He pleaded guilty to five felonies.
Scott sentenced Faucher to 25 years in prison, without the possibility of parole.
Faucher’s notice of appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court was filed with the Ada County Clerk’s Office on Friday morning. According to the document, the issue on appeal is: “Did the presiding judge abuse his discretion in imposition of the sentence?”
Faucher is exempt from fees associated with filing the appeal, the transcript fee and the preparation of the records because he is indigent, according to the filing.
This is a news update. Here’s our story from Faucher’s sentencing on Dec. 21, 2018.
Editor’s note: Some readers may find this news story disturbing.
Hearing the details of the Rev. William Thomas Faucher’s shocking depravity caused some to weep and others to beat a hasty retreat from a four-hour sentencing on the fifth floor of the Ada County Courthouse on Thursday morning.
The 73-year-old retired Boise priest, who was frail and feeble as he stood up from his wheelchair in court — he has lost 47 pounds in jail — told a judge that he’s taken responsibility for participating in the dissemination of child pornography.
And then he kept talking — delivering a rambling, roughly 17-minute statement — with what he said was important context for why he ended up on the dark side. He fantasized in online chats about raping babies and altar boys with a friend in Brazil, and the two men also discussed meeting up to kidnap a boy, rape him and then kill him, according to testimony in court.
“I was totally unprepared for retirement,” said Faucher, who noted that he was at odds with church leadership and felt targeted by one of the bishops. He said he got depressed, fell into drinking and lost control of his life.
“I was one really sick puppy. I screwed up big-time ... I feel so much remorse and anger directed at myself,” said Faucher, who in September pleaded guilty to five felonies, including two child porn distribution charges and one count of possession of LSD.
He argued that if he received probation rather than prison, he could become a voice for the victims of child sexual abuse. He said he was moved by the seven victim impact statements that were submitted to the court in writing as part of his presentence investigation report — they were victims that authorities identified in some of the thousands of photos and videos found on his computer.
Fourth District Judge Jason D. Scott was unmoved. Before handing down a 25-year prison sentence, with no possibility of parole, Scott said depression, social isolation and/or being at odds with one’s church might explain falling into drinking or drug use, but would not cause a person to seek out and then share child pornography with others.
The prison sentence was ultimately longer than what the prosecution recommended; it had suggested 30 years, with the possibility of parole after 20.
Scott said Faucher misled his supporters — some of whom wrote letters on his behalf — about how the child pornography got on his computer, spreading conspiracy theories rather than admitting that he solicited it. He said Faucher doesn’t appear to have fully internalized what he did or why he did it, and hasn’t admitted that he obtained the child porn for sexual gratification.
Faucher’s attorney, Mark Manweiler, said one of those who wrote to the court on Faucher’s behalf was Boise Mayor David Bieter. Manweiler read part of the letter, in which the mayor recounted how Faucher had helped him get through the loss of both of his parents in a car accident in 1999. A Boise native, Faucher was close to the Bieter family throughout his 45-year career in the priesthood.
Diocese of Boise officials told the Statesman on Wednesday that they will seek to have Faucher defrocked. They reiterated that in a press release after the sentencing:
“The volumes of shocking information that the law enforcement investigation uncovered reveal the heinous nature of child pornography and the tragic impact upon its victims,” the release says. “While we cannot begin to fathom what brought Faucher to the point that he was able to enter into this evil and dark world, we are thankful for the efforts of the law enforcement community in doing what it can to protect our children from these crimes.”
Investigation took a toll
Special Prosecutor Kassandra Slaven called Garden City Police Detective John Brumbaugh to the stand on Thursday. Brumbaugh, who’s been on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for five years, said the investigation began with a tip he received through the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit about pornographic images of children being exchanged from an email account that belonged to Faucher. A Google search of the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, was also linked to the St. Mary’s website. The IP address matched Faucher’s address.
St. Mary’s was Faucher’s church as a child, and it was the last church where he served as a priest, until his retirement in 2015.
In the months that followed, Brumbaugh said, his investigation looked at chats and emails that showed Faucher was “actively seeking interests with gay men, satanic interests,” and the rape and killing of minors. He also described the contents of the images police found on Faucher’s cellphone, computer and Dropbox account after raiding his house in February: more than 2,500 files that were sexually exploitative or pornographic with young-looking subjects. The files were described by police as violent, disturbing and torturous, with some featuring children crying.
In online chats with a person called Bruno, Faucher expressed a desire to have sex with boys, Brumbaugh said. Faucher said he had “satanic desires,” an attraction to 6-year-old white boys and an interest in killing someone, according to the detective. In one conversation, Faucher said he liked a video of a boy being beaten to death, the detective said.
Brumbaugh said he’s never investigated a case that involved such a large volume of images. He said their extreme nature took a toll on him and others involved in the investigation.
As Faucher solicited more videos of young boys, he wrote that he felt “wonderful indifference,” Brumbaugh told the courtroom.
Other disturbing images found during the investigation included depictions of black slavery; Faucher discussed those using racist language, the detective said. There were also images of Faucher urinating on a cross and a canon law book. Faucher said in a conversation that he urinated in the wine for Mass at least once. He also talked to Bruno about betraying canon law, and then blaming it on his age and illness, Brumbaugh said.
“It felt good to lie,” Faucher wrote in one of the conversations, the detective said.
Brumbaugh said Faucher told him that no one else had access to his email account. Investigators found no evidence that anyone had remotely accessed the retired priest’s computer, or that there was any sort of virus.
‘It shakes the community’
Ahead of the sentencing, Slaven asked for a 30-year sentence, with 20 years fixed. She also requested a no-contact order be put in place with all minor children.
An evaluation concluded that Faucher is on the upper end of the risk to reoffend and is less amenable to treatment, Slaven said, adding that he was diagnosed as a pedophile. She argued his status as a Catholic priest to be an aggravating factor.
“It shakes the community. It shakes the members of the Catholic Church,” Slaven said. “... He portrays himself as a victim and is not at all accountable for his actions.”
Manweiler had asked for probation and sex offender treatment instead of prison time. He said the evidence does not support that Faucher looked at all of the images on the computer. And he said that although Faucher looked at, possessed and shared child pornography, “he’s never sexually abused any child.”
Earlier, the Statesman reported that two men came forward to church officials and prosecutors to accuse him of sexually abusing them when they were children several decades ago; no charges have been filed in those cases. The defense said Thursday that any accusations made now should be taken “with a grain of salt.”
“Tom isn’t a good person. He’s a wonderful person” who’s helped hundreds if not thousands of people, Manweiler said.
In total, Faucher was charged with 24 crimes: 21 counts of felony sexual exploitation of a child, one count of felony possession of a controlled substance (LSD) and two counts of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance (marijuana and ecstasy). He pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of sexually exploitative material, two counts of possession of sexually exploitative materials and one count of drug possession.
Where did the priest get the drugs? That question was answered in testimony at the sentencing: The LSD and ecstasy found in his home came from Bruno, the Brazilian friend he chatted with about child porn. The marijuana was purchased by Faucher in another state — it is legal in both Oregon and Washington — and brought back into Idaho.