Robert McWilliams, a permanently laicized former priest, has died.

He was three months into a life prison sentence for “two counts of sex trafficking of youths younger than 18, three counts of sexual exploitation of children and three counts involving child pornography.”

He was found unresponsive in his cell early on Feb. 4th in Allenwood Federal Correctional Institution in White Deer, Pennsylvania. He was pronounced dead after being transported to a local hospital, an apparent suicide.

Hearing of McWilliams’ death later that day, the Diocese of Cleveland released a statement:

“We place this and all difficult situations in the hands of God. We will continue to pray for those hurt by his actions. May God be the source of their healing.”

McWilliams pled guilty in July. US District Judge Sara Lioi sentenced him to life in prison on November 9th.

She said the strict sentence was because the public needed to be protected from McWilliams because because he preyed upon youth who turned to him for help.

He was permanently laicized in December of last year directly by Pope Francis.

During sentence, McWilliams read from a letter he wrote to one of his victims: he blamed himself, “not the church or the priesthood” and prayed heir “faith in God and in the church will be healed.”

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