Videos allegedly show Illinois priests engaged in homosexual acts

Up to a dozen priests shown on cache of videos, sources say.

(Left) Father Barry Harmon was arrested in July for driving under the influence of alcohol. (Right) Mother of Dolors Catholic Church in Vandalia, Illinois.

Home videos discovered in the basement of a Catholic church in south central Illinois show up to a dozen local priests dressed in drag and engaging in homosexual acts, according to sources claiming to have viewed the videos.

The Diocese of Springfield has denied allegations that it confiscated the videos, but says that it is investigating their existence and whereabouts.

The material, which a parish source says included at least eight DVDs, was allegedly found by a parish employee in early 2018 in the basement of Mother of Dolors Catholic Church in Vandalia, about 75 miles south of Springfield and 70 miles northeast of St. Louis. The church’s then-pastor, Rev. Barry J. Harmon, was removed from ministry last month after investigators discovered pornography in his rectory; Harmon was also accused of misappropriating up to $29,000 in parish funds, and was charged in late July with driving under the influence of alcohol. He is voluntarily seeking laicization, according to a September 11 statement from the Diocese of Springfield’s Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki.

One source with knowledge of the Mother of Dolors office, who spoke with CWR on condition of anonymity, stated that the videos were among the evidence taken from the parish during the investigation of Father Harmon. An investigator, a former law enforcement officer working for the diocese, viewed the videos on a parish office computer, the source said. The unlabeled DVDs were taken from the parish along with pornography and drug paraphernalia, the source said.

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Springfield, Marlene Mulford, did not confirm the existence the videos, and told CWR that they were not among the materials taken from the Mother of Dolors rectory and turned over to police. This last point was confirmed by Vandalia police; “I am unaware of any homemade videos or drug paraphernalia,” from the search of the Mother of Dolors rectory, Police Chief Jeff Ray said in an email to CWR.

“Officials of the diocese have been hearing rumors of these videos, but no one has turned over any such videos to the diocese, nor is the diocese in possession of any such videos,” Mulford said. A priest in the diocese has been telling people that videos of priests dressed in drag were found and turned over to the diocese, Mulford said. “This is false,” she said.

The day after the investigator visited Mother of Dolors, parish staff noticed unfamiliar desktop icons on the computer the investigator had used, the source said; it appeared that several files from the confiscated DVDs had been copied to the parish computer. The source said the files were opened, and several witnesses viewed the videos.

Staff notified Father Albert Allen, at that time the parish’s parochial administrator, about the video files on the computer, the source said. Asked about this, Father Allen—pastor of St. Louis Parish in Nokomis, Illinois—told CWR, “I honestly don’t recall that. The way I would have handled that is to turn it over to the investigative team. The diocese had investigators down there. I had nothing to do with looking at computers.”

The morning following the alleged discovery of video files on the parish computer, parish staff noticed that sometime after the close of business the day before, the video files had been removed from the computer, according to the source with knowledge of the parish office. Staff said they were not made aware that someone would be accessing the computer.

Staff initially thought the computer or its hard drive had been replaced. Mulford confirmed that after the initial search of Harmon’s rectory, the diocese sent a forensic investigator to Mother of Dolors due to the “persistence of the rumor” about the videos.

“This investigator made a copy of a hard drive of the computer in the parish office but did not remove it,” Mulford said. No videos have been found so far, she said.

The diocese will be investigating the existence and whereabouts of the videos, Mulford said in a September 26 email to CWR.

“Given the persistence of the rumor and our inability to uncover proof, we have handed the matter over to Mr. William Roberts of the Special Panel for Clergy Misconduct,” Mulford said. “Mr. Roberts has indicated that he will retain an investigator to further examine this matter.” Roberts is a former US attorney for the central district of Illinois and former Sangamon County state’s attorney; he also served as chief legal counsel to former Illinois governor Jim Edgar. Roberts is senior partner with the Hinshaw & Culbertson law firm.

Catholic World Report spoke to three sources inside the Diocese of Springfield, two of whom claim to have viewed still images taken from the video footage and one who claims to have viewed the videos themselves.

According to these sources, the videos show priests dressed in drag, wearing Mardi Gras costumes and dressed as characters including Little Bo Peep and piano entertainer Liberace, known for his rhinestone suits and flamboyant personality. Other priests are shown partially clothed in a hot tub, the sources said. Priests are shown kissing, embracing, and “engaging in sex acts,” the source who claims to have viewed the videos stated.

One of CWR’s sources who purportedly saw the material stated Father Harmon was among 12 Diocese of Springfield priests identifiable in the videos. The videos also show unidentified men wearing shirts with the names of minimum-security prisons in Vandalia and Taylorville, Illinois. Some of the video footage was shot at Mother of Dolors church, although not in the worship space, one of CWR’s sources said.

Stephen G. Brady, president of the watchdog group Roman Catholic Faithful, Inc., said RCF has two different confidential sources who say they have knowledge of the Mother of Dolors videos. One of those individuals claimed to have viewed the video footage, Brady said; the other claims to have knowledge of the diocese’s seizure of the material.

According to Brady’s first source, “some of the videos were shot inside the church itself,” Brady said. “What’s so disturbing is this is only the tip of the iceberg. God only knows how much of this is going on and how bad it actually gets.”

From 2013 through 2016, Father Harmon was the Catholic chaplain at the Vandalia Correctional Center, a minimum-security state prison that houses about 1,200 inmates. The Diocese of Springfield also has prison ministry programs at seven other facilities, including the Taylorville Correctional Center. Most of those are staffed by priests.

The CWR sources saying they viewed the Mother of Dolors videos claim they observed several men wearing shirts with the names of two correctional facilities on them. Asked if inmates could be involved in these videos, Lindsey Hess, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Corrections, replied via email: “The Department possesses no evidence that indicates incarcerated individuals at Vandalia Correctional Center were involved in this case.”

Harmon was put on medical leave in October 2017. During his absence, diocesan officials discovered financial irregularities at the parish and “immoral activity inconsistent with the life of a priest,” according to Bishop Paprocki’s September 11 statement. Pornography was found in the rectory at Mother of Dolors, Paprocki states; a source familiar with the parish told CWR that it was homosexual porn, found in two trunks and a desk in Harmon’s office. Vandalia police determined there was no child pornography.

This isn’t the first time questionable videos featuring area priests have turned up in Springfield, according to two of CWR’s sources. The earlier videos, discovered at rectories around 2007 and in 2013, showed priests flirting with each other while dressed in drag or in costumes, the sources said. The behavior shown on the videos “was not sexual in an overt way,” one source said. Some of the participants were the same as in the videos found in 2018, the sources said.

Brady and RCF have contended for more than 20 years that a network of active homosexual priests exists in the Diocese of Springfield. The group spent years seeking the ouster of former Bishop Daniel L. Ryan for allegedly using teenage male prostitutes as young as 15 and sexually abusing four diocesan priests.

A source who contacted Brady and RCF last month said Harmon was in a longtime homosexual relationship with an ex-convict.

In 1998, a former prostitute named Frank Bergen told the State Journal-Register that Harmon paid him for sex on one occasion in the early 1990s, when Harmon was stationed at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Springfield. Harmon denied paying for sex, according to an unpublished transcript of an interview the priest did with the State Journal-Register. Harmon said Bergen, who was homeless at the time, threatened to go public with the prostitution story if the priest didn’t continue giving him money. Diocesan spokeswoman Mulford said the prostitution allegation was later examined by a special review board appointed by then-Bishop George Lucas. “Father Harmon was allowed to remain in ministry,” Mulford said.

In 2005, Harmon was accused of misappropriating $40,000 from St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Newton, Illinois. When a parish trustee started asking questions about a rash of spending with parish funds, Harmon fired her. The trustee went public with her story, and Harmon agreed to repay $40,000, plus the $8,000 cost of a diocesan financial audit. No charges were filed with police.

In the 2018 case, Harmon agreed to repay $29,000 to the diocese, Paprocki said last month. Vandalia police are reviewing the Mother of Dolors case, Police Chief Ray said.

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About Joseph M. Hanneman 101 Articles
Joseph M. Hanneman writes from Madison, Wisconsin.


  1. I’ve been noticing that a priest who often engages in homosexual activity is often also caught embezzling from his parish. It seems that the gay lifestyle costs more money than a priest makes.

    Therefore, one way for a bishop to catch perp priests is to enact greater financial controls and audits.

    • and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing in decent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as the did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper. Romans 1:27-28

  2. Another solution is to make parish clergy life hard and monitored. I would bet that Trappists have no active gays…because their life is hard…chanting before most animals awake, doing farm work, chanting again, back to farm work, etc. etc.til sleep.
    In some centuries, parish priests had a similar heavy work load. Active gays are drawn to schedules wherein leisure is very possible…Jesuit teaching…parish life ala modernity…few confessions, few novenas, no walking for miles to check on the sick or elderly…instead, a car takes care of such visits in a fraction of the old days before cars.

    • Don’t be so certain that Trappists can’t and don’t ever use pornography. I could (but wont) furnish you with the name of a former Trappist priest who was using homosexual pornography at his monastery.

    • Trappists? Well, they have people like Thomas Merton. Or former Mariawald community comprised of some unrest 1968 contemporaries which are ready to break community to prevent younger monks to return to officium in latin.

      There is only one measure – imitation of Christ. No early schedule, no amount of farm work, or perhaps even some “community as alternative to capitalism” model, can replace it.

    • With the way accusations are thrown around, I don’t believe until the videos show up because right now it is all unnamed sources. There are people trying to take down The Catholic Church. Not ALL priests as inferred here are homosexual nor do they engage in this morally corrupted behavior. The church does need to open the drapes and let the Son shine in because hiding the sins of the Shepards only pushes the followers away. Also, the clergy needs to start speaking out strongly against the killing of the unborn by pointing out that voting for a party whose sole issue is abortion is breaking the 6th Commandment of Thou shall not Kill. This whole take of the church I believe stems from the fact that the Holy Church will NEVER perform the same sex Marriages they desire.

      • “There are people trying to take down The Catholic Church.”

        Indeed. But they are not the sources for this story. I’m sorry, but please don’t be naive about how serious are the problems in many dioceses when it comes to homosexual priests.

        “Not ALL priests as inferred here are homosexual nor do they engage in this morally corrupted behavior.”

        Not sure what you are referring to, but the article itself never implies any such thing.

      • did you know here in springfield Illinois there was a catholic priest who was tied up with a gag in his mouth and the doors was left open to the police could come in and he was given a phone to call for help, and there is a 911 police call recording of this call. he was in the act of having gay sex with boys, the boys tied him up, name father Donovan, and when I was in jail 2 young boys who almost killed their male attacker in a park told me they had no clue who the man was, it was a different priest, these things are sick, the 2 boys went to jail for protecting themselves, the church can silence boys.

  3. I’m sure this is all just a mischaracterization. Homosexuality isn’t really the problem in the priesthood. There is no lavender mafia. This is all because of unfair celibacy rules. Allow these guys to marry, and all the theft, pornography and sodomy will quickly disappear. Pope Francis and the bishops are right on top of this. The New Springtime of the Church is in full bloom.

    • With respect, my friend, do you honestly believe that homosexuals and committed sodomites would welcome marriage to WOMEN? As you can see from the videos and gay parties – they want group homosexual sex and they want to corrupt young BOYS, certainly not girls – women are anathema to them. Homosexuals choose males and they are life-long addicts to their perversion. Women are very special people but they sure can’t work miracles.

    • It is not wanted by Our Lord for Celibate Clergy to be married. The role of the Priest is to serve Christ NOT to have sex.

      In the Book of the Apocalypse it is stated that 144,000 Celibate men (Priests obviously) who remained celibate will stand forever before the Throne of Christ.

      ” [3] And they sung as it were a new canticle, before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the ancients; and no man could say the canticle, but those hundred forty-four thousand, who were purchased from the earth. [4] These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb: [5] And in their mouth there was found no lie; for they are without spot before the throne of God.”

      Read the Revelations of St Bridget of Sweden – Book 7 Chapter 10. St Bridget is one of the greatest mystics of the Catholic Church – If you read that Chapter, Christ threatens a dire fate for the Pope who abolishes Priestly Celibacy. The role of the Priest is to serve Christ – not women. TO be a Priest of Christ is eternally a very great honour. No other honour matches it – he is blessed and honoured for none other than him is able to consecrate the Most Holy Eucharist to feed the faithful. A REAL Priest is not of the world – don’t get confused with Anglican Clergymen. To be a member of the Catholic Priesthood is a very great honour – for those who sin so badly as Priests, their condemnation will be eternal hell for having led a riotous life scandalising the sheep, scattering them, and misrepresenting Our Lord to the Faithful.

      The great Dr of the Church, St Catherine of Siena, received this quotation from our Lord regarding Priestly Homosexuality.

      • Bill, Grow up, saying that strict monastics have no active homosexuals is as foolish as saying secular priests are all homosexuals. Walking miles to see the sick and homebound, suggesting that priests should be living a stricter life, (Whatever that means) implying that priests are all lazy and “have it easy life” is ignorant and clueless about the reality for most of us. Follow a faithful Catholic priest around for a day and see how easy they have it. You have no idea what you are talking about. Monitor them more closely, (ankle bracelet)? How about monitoring the laity while we’re at it?

      • Angus, you interpret Scripture not according to the mind of the Church but according to your own confusion. The passage from Revelation has nothing to do with priestly celibacy.
        Also, it would be good if you studied the history of the Church, which is not only Roman but also Eastern. The Catholic Church has always had married priests. We continue to do so in the Anglican Ordinariates and Eastern Catholic Churches. Sex in marriage is not dirty or opposed to loving the Lord. I’m sorry to tell you but Our Lord did not establish priestly celibacy as a divine law.

        • Besides prayer and the practice of the virtues, so much needs to be done. I would be interest to hear how a married couple – the husband being a priest – make it all work. That is: a couple who do make marriage and ministry work. I have heard that it can, and does happen. For myself, there are so many questions about this. One of my chief concerns regarding married clergy, is that the kids don’t miss out on anything. Maybe CWR could invite a priest’s wife to do an article, explaining how they support each other, in their day to day activities. Importantly also: how it all works out for the kids.
          I think it would make for interesting reading.
          Stephen in Australia.

  4. Oh, boy.
    This will get much worse before it gets better. Can you just imagine the coverups being planned and carried our? Can you imagine the manipulation of the facts, news, truth which must be taking place? Homosexual clergymen in complete panic.
    Come Lord. Please come soon!

  5. What a most tortured life some these priests must be enduring. I feel very sorry for them, but no more than any victim they may have preyed upon.
    But what I really cannot understand is what some of these priest who violate so many of their vows, steal, etc., how do they look at life and eternal life itself? Do they believe there is a God, heaven, hell and purgatory? If so how could they not be in fear of it all? If not, how could they not believe being surrounded by so many amazing accounts of the lives of saints, the sacraments, the testimonies of the faithful, etc.? I don’t get it?

  6. I think that the saddest part about this article is the comment section. Some of the comments make me very disappointed. It is not our place to judge these men based on their sexual orientation. These priests are obviously unhappy with their lives and are trying to fill it with self gratification. It has nothing to do with homosexuality. I just imagine how eager they all once were to serve the Church when they first entered seminary. It is deeply upsetting that they have failed their vocation and the Church. They must feel that shame. Pray for them.

    • 85% of the abuse has been on male victims. Outside of the priesthood it is approximately reverse and this does have to do with homosexuality. St. Paul states in Romans that homosexuality results from atheism:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

      24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

      26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

      28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

    • The bishop needs to wake up,let law enforcement do their job, don’t send some specialists to interfere. Stop sugar coating everything Bishop we are smarter than that . The Church should press charges against him for the second time. WAKE up Springfield ! He should be fired with no pension not even allowed to free burial. This kind of thing is hurting our catholic faith immensely . There is no deterrent just a gentle slap on the hands.

  7. In California the Catholic Church – well, her members – are numerous, sufficiently wealthy, and politically influential; and a powerful, if silent, ally in progressing the LGBTQ agenda in the state.

    That’s correct. If it was other she would have been a counter-powerful, aggressive voice against the homosexualization of both Church and culture (especially that of California). Catholicism in California has chosen to – in spite of her numbers, wealth, and influence to do otherwise.

    California is truly the mother lode of the homosexualization (queering) of the Church. When the coming Great Cleansing stands on her threshold, and knocks, it will be an earthquake, indeed.

    In truth, the Grim Reaper, like an angelic host of divine woes, ia Truth Weeping. It gladly harvests its toll because truth *must out*.

  8. Check out what Professor Janet Smith said,
    Professor Janet Smith, a moral theologian at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit: “The deeper problem is the presence of homosexual networks in the Church — likely in dioceses all over the world and certainly in the Curia”

  9. Oct. 6th: Until these corrupt clergy are sent to prison and forced to pay back all monies they stole from the Churches, others will continue to carry out these corrupt and illicit actions. It seems that when laymen engage in such corruption, they are sent to prison, but when perpetrated by Catholic Priests or Bishops, they are asked to resign and then spend the rest of their lives doing the same things they did before…these men should be turned over to the police immediately!

  10. Oct. 6th: I honestly don’t understand this statement: “I honestly don’t recall that. The way I would have handled that is to turn it over to the investigative team. The diocese had investigators down there. I had nothing to do with looking at computers.”
    You either recall or you don’t!

  11. There are many prophecies from Our Lady of La Salette, France in 1846 that have warned of and predicted this sexual abuse crisis that we are now in. An example: “Priests, my Son’s ministers, priests, by their evil life, by their irreverence’s and their impiety in celebrating the holy mysteries, love of money, love of honor and pleasures, priests have become sewers of impurity. Yes, priests call forth vengeance, and vengeance is suspended over their heads. Woe to priests, and to persons consecrated to God, who by their infidelities and their evil life are crucifying my son anew! The sins of persons consecrated to God cry to heaven and call for vengeance, and now here is vengeance at their very doors, for no longer is anyone found to beg mercy and pardon for the people; there are no more generous souls, there is now no one worthy of offering the spotless Victim to the Eternal on the world’s behalf.”
    “The chiefs, the leaders of the people of God have neglected prayer and penance, and the devil has bedimmed their intelligence. They have become wandering stars which the old devil will drag along with his tail to make them perish. God will allow the old serpent to cause divisions among those who reign, in every society and in every family. Physical and moral agonies will be suffered. God will abandon mankind to itself and will send punishments which will follow one after the other for more than thirty-five years. “ (starting in the year 2000)
    Also, Our Lady of Good Success in the early 1600s, at Quito, Ecuador predicted many crises for the latter part of the 20th century and to the present day. Pope John Paul II experienced visions of the future while he was convalescing in 1981. He saw, “Precisely at the end of the second millennium, there accumulates on the horizon of all mankind enormously threatening clouds, and darkness falls upon mankind.” The book and web site, “After The Warning To 2038” contains many more Catholic prophecies of future events that are going to unfold soon.

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