Today’s news:

Ex- SJU priest Plock gets 5 yrs probation: DA

Former St. John’s University chaplain Charles Plock was sentenced Monday to five years’ probation after pleading guilty to sending homemade sex videos of himself to someone he believed was a 13-year-old boy, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s office said.

Plock, 63, was arrested Oct. 10, 2008, and subsequently fired from the university, according to police and university officials.

Known as “Father Charlie” to his students, Plock admitted he e-mailed Web camera images of himself masturbating to someone he believed to be a teenage boy, but was actually an undercover detective from Colorado.

Detective Mark Michielli of the Adams County, Colo., sheriff’s office had pretended to be a teenage boy as part of an online sting operation.

Plock, who had been a campus minister and lived on the St. John’s Queens campus, has completed a church-sponsored offender program, forfeited his computers and will no longer reside in Queens, the DA’s office said. He will now live upstate and be supervised by a priest, according to the DA’s office. He is now classified as a Level 1 sex offender.

John Theodorellis, Plock’s attorney, said he had no comment on the sentencing.

The former chaplain was ordained in the St. John’s founding order, the Vincentians, in May 1973 and was a board member at Covenant House, a nonprofit that shelters runaway teens. He is no longer on the board.

Plock was a popular figure on campus and students interviewed last year following the chaplain’s arrest said they were shocked to hear about the case.

“Father Charlie never gave off that vibe to me ever,” said former St. John’s student Alexandra Espinosa, who worked at the school’s chapel with Plock from 2005-07. “I used to altar serve for him when he’d do masses, and he was always really friendly, really laid back. Normally you get the impression priests are strict, but he wasn’t like that. He was like another friend.”

The Catholic Church has been rocked by sex abuse scandals in recent years.

“For everyone who’s Catholic, you have priests you look up to and view as role models, and when something like this happens, it’s really disheartening,” Espinosa said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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