CLEVELAND — Pope Francis has dismissed from the priesthood a Cleveland man who is serving a life sentence in prison for sexually exploiting children.
The action against Robert McWilliams, 41, means he will no longer be able to serve in any role as a priest, the Diocese of Cleveland said in a statement Dec. 21.
“This dismissal is a penalty imposed directly by the pope. There is no possible appeal,” the diocese said.
McWilliams told U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi during sentencing Nov. 9 that he had sought dismissal from the priesthood. He blamed his actions on an addiction to pornography.
In July, McWilliams pleaded guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of youths younger than 18, three counts of sexual exploitation of children and three counts involving child pornography.
Lioi said she imposed the strict sentence because the public needed to be protected from McWilliams because he had preyed upon youths who turned to him for help.