Authorities find child porn on computer of man who worked as a deacon, prosecutor says

A man identified by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office as a deacon at a local church was caught with child porn on his computer, authorities said.

Anthony Laterza, 70, of Berkeley Township, was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography, according to a Thursday statement from Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer.

“It is our understanding that this defendant serves a deacon at a church in Lakehurst, as such we have made appropriate notifications,” Billhimer said in the statement.

Online listings show that Laterza was affiliated with St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Lakehurst.

A Diocese of Trenton spokeswoman, Rayanne Bennett, said Laterza was briefly a deacon at St John’s in November and December 2019, but his ministry ended after the two months and he has no faculties in the Trenton diocese and has not worked as a deacon in 2020.

Bennett said Laterza is a deacon in the Archdiocese of Newark and had relocated. A 2005 announcement from the Newark archdiocese celebrated his graduation from their diaconate class.

The investigation of Laterza began after a referral from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through the New Jersey State Police which stated that a Berkeley Township resident was downloading child porn images, the office said.

Authorities traced the downloads to Laterza’s home, executed a search warrant and seized electronic devices they found there, according to the statement.

A forensic review of the devices revealed images images of child pornography so Laterza was arrested, charged and taken to Ocean County Jail where he was lodged pending his detention hearing, the office said.

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Chris Sheldon may be reached at [email protected].

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