Catholic Priest Gerald Hechenberger Busted With Meth, Child Porn in Metro East

by

comment
The Rev. Gerald Hechenberger is facing child porn and drug charges. - IMAGE VIA BELLEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Image via Belleville Police Department
  • The Rev. Gerald Hechenberger is facing child porn and drug charges.

A Catholic priest in the Metro East was trading in child porn and drugs, authorities say.

Belleville police detectives served search warrant at 7 a.m. on Monday at Holy Childhood Catholic Church in Mascoutah following an investigation into the Rev. Gerald Hechenberger.



In the church rectory, detectives found meth, drug paraphernalia and multiple images of child pornography, police say. The photos allegedly showed kids younger than thirteen.

Hechenberger, an associate priest in the parish, was charged with seventeen felonies, including eighteen counts of disseminating child pornography and one count of possession of methamphetamine. He was jailed on a $2 million bond.



Police say they don't know yet whether the pastor was producing the illicit images himself or had any direct contact with the young victims. Detectives were first tipped off to Hechenberger by the Illinois Attorney General's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which had noticed the priest's ties to some suspicious online activity.

Belleville detectives, who also partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, say they tracked Hechenberger using multiple search warrants and "online investigative techniques," leading to the search warrant they executed on Monday for an on-the-ground search of the church.

Belleville detectives and investigators from the state Attorney General's Office confiscated and analyzed multiple electronic devices along with the meth, police say. Hechenberger was arrested on Monday and charged Tuesday in the case.

Police say he is the only person at the church who is under investigation.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.


Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.