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updated: 9/6/2012 8:30 PM

Former Benet president guilty of obscenity

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Benet Academy students, parents and faculty members are focused on moving forward now that the Lisle school's former president has been convicted on a misdemeanor obscenity charge stemming from the discovery of sexual images on his work computer.

The Rev. Jude Randall, who had been president of the Catholic high school since 1992, pleaded guilty on Aug. 31 -- just two days after he was charged. The 78-year-old was sentenced to two years' probation.

That same day, Principal Stephen Marth and the Rev. Austin G. Murphy, the school's chancellor, sent a letter to parents indicating that school officials were the ones who contacted Lisle police after the "inappropriate" Internet images were discovered on the computer in Randall's office.

"We remain grateful for the enormous contribution Fr. Jude has made to the success of Benet Academy's mission over the years," the statement reads, "but such gratitude could not override the need to address his inappropriate behavior and turn the matter over to police so they can determine whether any of his actions violated the law."

Authorities say they filed the obscenity charge because someone saw the images on the Randall's computer on March 6. Marth said that person reported what happened to him.

A few days after being placed on administrative leave and having his computer turned over to Lisle police, Randall resigned at Murphy's request. Randall is barred from visiting the school or attending school functions.

Benet officials say their own review found no evidence that Randall involved any students in his activities, shared the images with anyone else or engaged in inappropriate behavior with students.

"Strict controls" now are in place to prevent administrative staff computers from being able to access adult content of a sexual nature, officials said. Those measures had already been in place for computers used by students, faculty and most staff.

On Thursday, Marth said Benet parents have reacted positively to the way the school handled the situation.

"We used it as a teachable moment for their children," Marth said. "We pointed to what is a larger societal problem with pornography that affects all of us."

In the meantime, he said, everyone is excited about the new school year, which started last week.

"As far as teachers and students and school, it's pretty much business as usual," Marth added. "We're focused on the future."

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