CONNECTICUT: Former music director sentenced on child pornography charge
Robert F. Tate, 66, is also required to pay a $50,000 fine and continue treatment for sexually deviant behavior. Once he is released from prison, Tate will be under supervision, requiring him to register as a sex offender, have his Internet usage monitored, and barred from spending time with children under the age of 18 unless accompanied by a responsible adult aware of his conviction. Tate is not expected to appeal.
Tate, who was music director at the church for 34 years, has admitted to possessing child pornography, having sex with boys in Thailand, the Philippines and Costa Rica and having sex with boy prostitutes from New York in his church apartment. He maintains he never assaulted members of the church's choirs, but knowingly hired two pedophiles to work in the choir.
Two circumstances are thought to have shortened Tate's sentence from the maximum 9-11 years that could have been imposed.
Firstly, Tate is deemed to have been making progress at Alpha Human Services, a Minneapolis facility where he has been treated since pleading guilty to possessing child pornography in January 2007.
Secondly, Tate is credited for cooperating with prosecutors, including in a case against a former Christ Church Greenwich attorney, Philip D. Russell, 48. In September, Russell pled guilty to misprision for destroying the hard drive of Tate's laptop computer on which church officials discovered pornographic images of naked boys in October 2006. Russell was sentenced to six months home confinement in December.
Tate was quoted as saying in court: "There are many people who, all my life, thought I was a good choir master and a good person and a good example for their kids. I want those people to know today that I was a terrible choir master, a terrible person and I harmed those kids…I've struggled all my life with a sexual attraction to young boys. I don't know why this happened to me. I was abused myself, but that is no excuse. The actions I took harmed hundreds of boys."
U.S. District Court Judge Alan Nevas was quoted as telling Tate, "What you did was unspeakable, it was horrendous, it was terrible."
In an email immediately following Tate's sentencing, the Rev. Dr. James B. Lemler, priest-in-charge at Christ Church, wrote parishioners: "We are, and will be, constant and bold in our prayer for Robert Tate, for all the people of Christ Church Greenwich, and for the many children in this world today who are victims of abuse and exploitation. We pray for the great healing and reconciling gifts of God to be abroad in our church and the world.
"A situation such as this requires candor and compassion within a church family," Lemler continued. "It also evokes concern and fear that must be addressed and brought to the healing power of God's grace and love. This tests a community greatly and prompts us to commit ourselves anew to justice, safety, and God's purposes here and now."
The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut issued a news release February 21 saying it is "deeply committed to the safety and well-being of all children. In addition to Safe Church training for clergy and other members, the Diocese maintains clear policies designed to promote healthy congregations and keep our children from harm.
"We continue to support the clergy and leaders of Christ Church, Greenwich in their work of caring for those who have been harmed by the misconduct that has been reported, and we are committed to help the congregation as they seek healing and new life."» Respond to this article