(NECN: Mike Cronin) - On Monday, Lowe Dongor plead not guilty to charges of child pornography possession and larceny over $250.
The 36-year-old man was a priest at St. Joseph's Parish in Fitchburg, Mass.
The state says pornographic images were found on church computers when they were sent out for regular maintenance in June 2011.
"During the course of that review, they noted images consistent with child pornography, young girls approximately 10, 11, and 12 years old on this defendant's computer," Courtney Sans, prosecutor, said.
State police interviewed Dongor shortly afterwards. Sans says he then admitted to possessing the pornography.
"That he went to view those images, that he had specifically done google searches looking for children under the age of 18 and was looking for young girls to look at. At times he felt bad about it, at times he did not, and he had paid for access to those websites with his debit card," Sans said.
Sans added Dongor also admitted to stealing between $40-$60 a week from church collections and wiring the money to his family in the Philippines.
He was charged in Fitchburg court in September 2011, but the state says he fled to the Philippines within a month, leaving a note behind for his supervising pastor.
"He wanted to apologize for what he had done, he was sorry for his decision to leave, he wanted to find himself in peace at home," Sans said.
When authorities tracked him down, they left Dongor with two options: Wait in a Filipino prison or turn himself in.
"He opted to surrender himself to federal authorities and be brought to California and from California to here today," Sans said.
Dongor's defense attorney says he turned in all of his travel documents to authorities when he arrived in Los Angeles, but the judge ordered Dongor held on $500,000 cash bail.
"He has no job, he has no resources, we have absolutely no reason to believe that this defendant will do anything but do which he has done, which is to flee the Commonwealth and the country again," Sans argued.