LOS BANOS, Calif. (KFSN) --A former Roman Catholic priest caught with child pornography received four years of probation and the chance to avoid jail time on Tuesday. A judge required him to register as a sex offender for life.
The Reverend Robert Gamel is the former lead priest of Saint Joseph Church in Los Banos.
The 66-year-old was widely known in the community as Father Bob. He led the Saint Joseph parish for about five years before his removal in December 2014.
In March, Gamel pled guilty to a single felony count of possession of child pornography. But he is expected to ask the Merced County Sheriff's Office to convert an 11 month jail sentence to an alternative program. This would allow him to serve his sentence without spending any time behind bars.
"We are disappointed with the judge granting probation. However, it was at the court's discretion. The court exercises discretion and I think something very important here is that we are a society of rules and laws. We have to follow them, so we will respect the judge's determination,' said Travis Colby, Deputy District Attorney.
In a statement, Bishop Armando Ochoa said the Diocese of Fresno is preparing to initiate a canonical investigation, which reviews all aspects of the case as it relates to church law.
Gamel has been ordered to report to the Merced County Jail on June 27th.