A church deacon in Baltimore was arrested last week for possession of child pornography, a crime that first came to light after Verizon (NYSE:VZ) found pornographic images in his personal Verizon Online Backup and Sharing account.
William Steven Albaugh, 67, was apprehended by local authorities on Friday morning after police found “numerous files of child pornography” on his Verizon online storage locker and several thumb drives, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Albaugh, a retiree, was first ordained as a Catholic deacon in 1996 and served as a longtime member of St. Joseph’s Church in Fullerton, Md. Police arrested Albaugh on March 1 during an investigation at his home following Verizon’s original tip to local authorities.
Albaugh admitted he has been collecting and viewing child pornography since the 1970s. Before he had access to Internet pornography and cloud computing services like Verizon’s, Albaugh said he would access the material at local adult bookstores and pornography shops, according to the police paperwork cited by the Sun.
Albaugh insisted that he has never actually assaulted a minor or produced explicit material. He added that none of the children in the St. Joseph community were victims of his crimes.
Owning or obtaining child pornography is illegal, irrespective of its use, however. And like many types of online storage or media services, Verizon’s Online Backup and Sharing states in its terms of service that the company is “required by law to report any facts or circumstances reported to us or that we discover from which it appears there may be a violation of the child pornography laws.”
“We reserve the right to report any such information, including the identity of users, account information, images and other facts to law enforcement personnel,” it said.
Verizon said the company first detected child pornography in Albaugh’s account and notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which notified Baltimore police.
In a statement released last weekend, the Archdiocese of Baltimore said Albaugh had been suspended from his position at the church, adding that he had never come under special investigation for potential illegal activity beyond the church’s standard screening procedures.
"Neither the parish nor the Archdiocese has received any prior allegations against Mr. Albaugh, who successfully fulfilled all of the child & youth protection requirements of the Archdiocese, including a criminal history screening," the statement said.
Albaugh was released from a Baltimore county jail on a $75,000 bond. Police said they are still investigating the child pornography incident.