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Former St. Agnes music director pleads guilty to child porn charges

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Michael Wustrow, the former co-director of music at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge on June 13.

Wustrow, 56, of Freeport, faces five to 20 years in prison, according to his attorney, Joseph Conway. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 30.On Feb. 19, Wustrow was indicted on one count each of receipt and possession of child pornography, which are felonies. He was arrested on Feb. 20 and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Central Islip later that day. He has been in prison since.

Because Wustrow pleaded guilty last week to one count of receiving child pornography, in 2016, a count of possession was dismissed, Conway said.

“He admitted his guilt and apologized for his actions,” Conway added.

On Sept. 11, 2017, Wustrow was found to have multiple images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct on his cellphone, according to a June 13 news release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York. One was a photo of a toddler being abused by an adult male, which Wustrow received from the messaging app Kik, the release added.

Wustrow also claimed on the app to have had sexual contact with an underage teenage boy, and stated that he wanted to sexually abuse a 12- or 13-year-old boy, the release states. “There is no evidence he was interacting with children,” Conway told the Herald.

Sean Dolan, the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s director of communications, said in a statement, “The Diocese and the Parish of St. Agnes are confident in the process that has resulted in Mr. Wustrow’s guilty plea. We understand from law enforcement that the underlying investigation did not reveal that any children from the parish or the diocese were victims of Mr. Wustrow’s criminal activities.”

The diocese removed Wustrow from his position in September 2017 after it learned of a federal investigation into possible charges of child exploitation, the diocese said at the time. The FBI had executed a search warrant and seized Wustrow’s work computer, it added. He was supposed to begin a new job as music director of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 1, 2017, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“Our priority is the protection of children and young people, as well as keeping our community informed,” Dolan wrote to the Herald in an email in February. “When we learned that there was an investigation of Mr. Wustrow regarding child exploitation, we provided timely information and outreach assistance to our community.”

Wustrow joined the diocese in 1993, and also served as director of the Diocesan Adult Choir. He has extensive experience as a choral conductor and organist, and has performed regularly at St. Agnes Cathedral as well as in recitals across the country, according to the diocese.

St. Agnes’s music program, which Wustrow co-directed with Michael Bower, has eight choral groups, including a children’s choir made up of first- and second-graders, two girls’ choirs comprising girls in grades 3 through 8 and a Choir of Men and Boys for those in grades 3 through 12.

“The Eastern District will continue to bring to justice those like Wustrow who contribute to the victimization of innocent children,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement.