CLEVELAND — Rev. Dr. Mark Griggs, pastor of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Olmsted Falls, has been charged with trading in child pornography.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced that Griggs, 48, faces 112 counts that include downloading, trading and possessing child pornography.
Griggs is one of 27 adults, along with three juveniles, charged in a six month investigation called "Operation Lake Effect." The investigation has been conducted by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
Prosecutors charge that Griggs downloaded and saved images of children being sexually abused onto his computer. They say Griggs traded child porn images from both his home and church computers.
"Shocking...always," Mason says of a pastor being indicted on such charges.
But Griggs', attorney, Jay Milano, says his client will fight the charges.
"Reverend Griggs is going to plead and he's going to defend himself," says Milano. "He's not a child pornographer."
Milano says Rev. Griggs was on "Limewire" -- an internet file-sharing program.
"If you're downloading files from Limewire, you don't have any control of what's coming into your computer," Milano says.
Prosecutor Mason rejects the notion that Griggs made innocent mistakes.
"The amount of downloading and file sharing he has is significant," Mason says.
The church's website talks about Griggs' "commitment and love of children."
In a statement released Thursday, the Presbytery of the Western Reserve said the following about Griggs' arrest: "We do not have much information about this situation yet but the Presbytery takes allegations of misconduct very seriously and will cooperate with authorities in their investigation."
All of these cases are in Cuyahoga County, indicating how pervasive child porn can be. 34 other cases have been sent to other jurisdictions.
Prosecutor Mason says the investigation shows the need for parents to monitor what their children do online. And he also says that predators should be aware that, if they continue trading in child porn, they may well be caught.
An initial court date for Griggs and the other defendants has not been set yet.