A former priest in Los Banos was held to answer Wednesday on charges of possession of child pornography.
For the second time in a little more than a year Robert E. Gamel, the former head priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Los Banos, is facing a child pornography trial.
Two probation officers and a Los Banos police detective testified Wednesday that paper copies of the same images possessed by the 65-year-old Gamel leading to his first conviction, were found during a probation search of his Merced home April 12, Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby said.
Gamel has pleaded not guilty to the latest allegations.
Gamel first was arrested in June of 2015 after a 10-month investigation revealed he sought out nude photographs of a teenage boy, and “bragged” to several people about an anonymous Instagram account he operated, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The affidavit also included statements from the Rev. Guadalupe Rios, who told police that Gamel informed him a teenage boy posted nude photographs and that Gamel found the photos.
Gamel pleaded no contest to possession of child pornography in March 2016, and he started serving an 11-month jail sentence in June, after pleading no contest to possession of child pornography.
With credit for time served, he was released in December.
Colby said the testimony Wednesday corroborates probation reports, which also state that the images were found printed on paper.
The photos were found in an envelope, which was the only object inside a briefcase in Gamel’s closet, according to the reports.
Colby said a probation officer also noted that Gamel changed his residence several times after being released in December.
“I think it shows he took the photographs with him,” Colby said.
A trial setting date has been scheduled for June 21.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562