Birmingham priest suspended following child pornography charges
A Birmingham Episcopal priest, Michael Glenn Rich, 56, has been suspended by the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama after he was arrested on child pornography charges.
"Our diocese is grieved by the arrest of Michael Rich, who had been serving as a priest in Birmingham, " said Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan, the Bishop of the Diocese of Alabama. "Upon learning of the charges against him, Rich was immediately suspended from the practice of ministry within the Episcopal Church, and proceedings under the disciplinary canons of our church have been initiated. "
"Our community prays for all who are victims of exploitation. The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Alabama are committed to guarding against sexual misconduct in all its ugly abusive forms. We are united in proclaiming that our hope is in God, who created all that is, who redeems us from all of our selfish sinfulness, and who sustains and guides us, even in our darkest days," Bishop Sloan said.
Rich was one of two Jefferson County men arrested during Operation Standing Guard Two. That was a sting operation carried out by ALEA''s Alabama Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Thomas Morrison Hart , Jr. of Adamsville was also arrested.
Rich is charged with three counts of possession of child pornography and Hart is charged with five counts.
Both were released from the Jefferson County Jail.
During the five day sting operation, investigators identified 22 children who had been sexually exploited.
Alabama law enforcement worked with Georgia authorities.
They made more than two dozen arrests, including seven Alabamians, who traveled out of state with the expectation of having sex with a child.