A priest at a Chester County parish is facing charges for allegedly possessing and distributing child pornography.

The Chester County District Attorney's Office said the Rev. Mark Haynes, 55, a priest at Saints Simon and Jude Rectory in Westtown Township, is accused of posting sexually explicit images of a teenage girl on Instagram.

"No matter whether you are rich or poor, young or old, clergy or layperson, the possession of child pornography will lead to arrest, shame and jail," District Attorney Tom Hogan said in a statement.

The investigation began last month, when law enforcement officials received information from the social media site about naked images of young girls.

Detectives traced the email address associated with the account to Saints Simon and Jude, and eventually to Haynes, prosecutors said.

Investigators also found that Haynes received and posted other images and exchanged lewd emails with an unidentified 14-year-old girl, posing as a 16-year-old girl in the exchanges, prosecutors said.

In an interview this week, Haynes admitted to distributing pornographic images of children through Instagram and email, according to court documents. He told investigators he received about 100 explicit photos and sent about 50 images to others, the documents say.

He is in custody at the Chester County Prison after failing to post 10 percent of $200,000 bail.

The Archdiocese said he has been placed on administrative leave. Priests on leave are not permitted to exercise their public ministry, administer sacraments or present themselves publicly as priests.

Haynes, who was ordained as a priest in 1985, has served at eight different parishes in the Philadelphia suburbs, including Saints Simon and Jude: St. Ann in Phoenixville, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Doylestown, St. John of the Cross in Roslyn, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Southampton, St. Pius X in Broomall, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Morton and Annunciation B.V.M. in Havertown.

He has also worked as a chaplain at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, at the Office for Youth and Young Adults and at the Office of the Metropolitan Tribunal.

In a statement, the Archdiocese called the allegations "serious and disturbing" and said child pornography was a "scourge that must be eradicated."

There had been no earlier indications that Haynes was involved in such activity, the Archdiocese said, and no sexual-abuse allegations had ever been made against him.

Prosecutors said the Archdiocese and parish have been cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation, which is ongoing.

"Given the number of parishes to which the defendant was assigned and his close proximity to children, we are concerned that there are other victims out there," Hogan said.

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at 610-344-4625.

Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.
Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443 or BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.