Retired Covington psychiatrist pleads guilty to attempted possession of child pornography

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Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 11:43 AM     Updated: Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 4:22 PM

13 April 2011-04-15

By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Times-Picayune

A retired Covington psychiatrist booked in 2008 with possessing more than 100 sexually explicit pictures of children on his computer has pleaded guilty to less severe charges.

Times-Picayune archiveSt. Tammany Parish Justice Center in Covington

Dr. Steve Taylor, 71, admitted to attempted possession of juvenile pornography during a hearing at the St. Tammany Parish courthouse in Covington on Tuesday, according to the District Attorney’s Office. In exchange for his plea, state Judge Peter Garcia sentenced him to two years in prison.

Ralph Whalen, Taylor’s defense attorney, said his client will begin serving his sentence April 22. He declined to answer questions about the reasoning behind the plea.

Meanwhile, DA spokesman Rick Wood explained that prosecutors struck the deal because they had concerns about evidence in the case and were unsure that a trial verdict would be favorable.

“It was the right thing to do,” Wood said.

Times-Picayune archiveDr. Steve Taylor

Taylor, prior to his arrest, had been honored for his work with health care organizations and had been affiliated with a group dedicated to counseling victims of sexual abuse.

Sheriff’s Office deputies began investigating Taylor three years ago after receiving a tip that child pornography had been downloaded on his computer.

Investigators later seized Taylor’s home computer and uncovered images downloaded from websites showing non-local youths under the age of 17. On April 9, 2008, they searched Taylor’s home and office and jailed him on 107 counts of juvenile pornography possession, each of which was punishable with a $10,000 fine and two to 10 years in prison.

Authorities have declined to say where the tip originated.

A grand jury indicted him last September. The court scheduled his trial for this week, but he accepted a plea bargain rather than combat the charges before a jury.

Attempted possession of child pornography carries a maximum five-year sentence. Assistant District Attorney Joseph Oubre handled the prosecution.

Taylor was well-known as a psychiatrist on the north shore. He served on St. Tammany Parish Hospital’s Ethics Board, counseled residents after Hurricane Katrina and ran a support group for survivors of suicide. Late in the month during which he was arrested, he was supposed to receive an “Angels Among Us” award from the Hospice Foundation of the South. But organizers canceled the event.

He also collaborated with the Louisiana chapter of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Taylor attended the first meeting of the organization in Metairie in 2003. He also accompanied members of the organization to Baton Rouge when they urged the Legislature to require clergy to report abuse suspicions.

At the time, he told The Times-Picayune the right of clergy to keep confessions private did not outweigh the importance of discovering potential abuse cases. “The privilege is not as important as helping the next child,” he said. “The cycle has to be broken.”

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Ramon Antonio Vargas can be reached at [email protected] or 985.898.4827

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SNAP Psychiatrist Sent to Prison

Kresta in the Afternoon

http://krestaintheafternoon.blogspot.com/2011/04/snap-psychiatrist-sent-to-prison.html

Thursday, April 14, 2011 

Dr. Steve Taylor, a Louisiana psychiatrist who has worked with the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), has been sentenced to two years in prison for possession of child pornography.

The news drew the following response from Catholic League president Bill Donohue:

“How many more morally debased psychiatrists are working with SNAP? Did SNAP leaders know about the leisure-time activities of Dr. Taylor? When did they know and what did they do about it? It’s time we learned the truth. What we know already is nauseating.

“In 2008, Dr. Taylor’s computer was seized by the authorities after they learned that he was downloading child pornography. He was jailed on 107 counts at the time, and in September of last year a grand jury indicted him. The court accepted a plea bargain from him this week.

“Dr. Taylor got off easy, at least according to his own standards. In 2003, speaking for SNAP clients, he argued that the confidentiality of the confessional seal should not be respected by the law. In a contemptuous statement against the Catholic Church, he voiced his objections to a unanimous decision by the Louisiana House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice protecting the confidential communication of priests, ministers, rabbis and other clergy members. He said at the time that the seal has to be broken because “We have faces now.”

“Well, SNAP, we now have the faces of the children your colleague downloaded to feed his sick habits. If breaking the priest-penitent privilege is something you support, will you now support turning over the patient records of Dr. Taylor? Will you support a probe of this matter? What if there is more evidence against him? What if there are more victims? You’re always looking for new victims, aren’t you? Strike when the iron is hot—who cares about psychiatrist-patient privilege?”

3 Responses to Retired Covington psychiatrist pleads guilty to attempted possession of child pornography

  1. Sylvia says:

    A reminder here that a wolf masquerading in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf.

    I know nothing of Taylor aside what I read in the above articles so can say little aside the obvious: a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Two more comments here…

    (1) SNAP has done good work for victims of clerical sexual abuse. I don’t always agree with their tactics but there is no doubt that the organization has been instrumental in exposing the cover-up of clerical sexual abuse within the Church.

    In that vein, I do not agree at all with SNAP’/Taylor’s efforts to force priests to violate the seal of confession. I do however agree that any communications outside confession can be reported, and, if they entail child sex abuse, must be reported. I also believe that confessors should not absolve a molester who confesses during confession – I believe in such cases it is the obligation of the confessor to encourage the molester to (a) speak to the priest outside confession, and/or (b) turn himself in. Until a self-professed molester turns himself in to authorities absolution should be with-held (I fail to see how a priest could deem the presence of true contrition warranting absolution if a molester fails to hold himself accountible for his crimes.)

    (2) I also think the president of the Catholic League, Bill Donahue, went over the edge with his sarcastic slur: “You’re always looking for new victims, aren’t you?” That was totally uncalled for.

  2. Sylvia,

    Well said. I understand Donohue’s position though. If SNAP wants to pierce the veil of the confessional to uncover predators – then the same argument can be used to pierce the veil of privilege that exists between doctors and patients. He is simply saying that ‘whats good for the goose is good for the gander’.

    Sadly, it’s just another example of how dangerous the world is for kids and parents these days. Cases like this one makes clear that there are professionals of various stripes, not just clergy, who will seek out opportunities to get their ‘jollies’ at the expense of innocents.

    Fr. Tim

  3. Sylvia says:

    I see what you’re saying Father.

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