GREAT FALLS – The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on Friday that Lothar Konrad Krauth of Great Falls, 80 years old, appeared on a criminal complaint before U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston on charges of receipt of child pornography.
The complaint alleges the crime occurred from about October 26, 2017 to October 26, 2018 in Cascade County.
On October 10, 2018, agents with the Department of Homeland Security received a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) CyberTip identifying an IP address in Great Falls as uploading an image of a nude prepubescent male child. A Summons to the internet service provider identified the IP address as assigned to Krauth.
Court documents state that officers with the Great Falls Police Department and HSI seized approximately 20 items of electronic devices at his house on October 26; the items included a desktop computer, nine hard drives, six thumb drives, two digital cameras, 210 DVDs/CDs, and 30 VCR tapes.
A forensic examination of the devices revealed approximately 400 images of child pornography, to include children engaged in sexually explicit conduct to include oral, vaginal, and anal acts with other children and adults. The majority of the images depict prepubescent children, some as young as approximately two or three years old.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office states that the complaint is merely an accusation and Krauth is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
If indicted and convicted of the charge in the complaint, Krauth faces a minimum mandatory five years to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release.
The investigation identified Krauth as being a retired Catholic Priest assigned to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Great Falls from 1989 to 2014. He is known throughout the community as “Father Lou.”
Johnston ordered Krauth detained pending a detention hearing set for November 14.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations.
The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings released a statement on Friday addressing Krauth’s arrest.
You can read the entire statement below:
On Thursday November 8, 2018 the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings was notified that a retired priest, who lives in Great Falls, was arrested by Federal Authorities with the complaint of receipt of child pornography.
Bishop Michael Warfel and the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings is cooperating fully with the authorities in this case.
While this case involves child pornography, the diocese has never received a complaint regarding sexual abuse of children by Fr. Krauth. Although Fr. Krauth has been retired for several years, Bishop Warfel has removed his faculties and he is not allowed to function as a priest at this time.
Bishop Warfel said, “If these allegations are true, they are a betrayal of the trust we place in all ministers of the church such as Fr. Krauth. Anyone who takes advantage of and exploits children for their own gratification is reprehensible. There are no excuses for such behavior especially our priests.”
Fr. Krauth has retained his own defense counsel.