The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 36-year-old priest after he supposedly grabbed an undercover officer inappropriately, exposed himself and told the cop he wanted to perform a sex act on him at Venice beach, Florida. He was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with exposing his sexual organs and battery.
A Diocese spokesman said the priest is on administrative leave until the charges are settled.
It is unknown if the priest has retained an attorney at this time.
Deputies said they were conducting the undercover operation on the beach because they had previous complaints about lewd activity. No doubt the occupation of the defendant in this matter will be pre-trial evidentiary issue for the court. It would seem plausible that potential jurors may have pre existing opinions about the sexual behavior of Catholic priests which could impose a problem for them to view this case impartially.
In any case that involves the exposure of sexual organs, to obtain a conviction prosecutors must prove that the accused exposed his or her sexual organs in a public place or on the private premises of another party where he or she could be seen by others and that the exposure was meant to be vulgar, indecent or lewd in manner and was intended for those purposes. The maximum penalty for exposing sexual organs is one year in jail. This crime is a misdemeanor and if convicted you are not required to register as a sexual offender, unlike most sex crimes convictions.
It is possible to lower the offense or have the charges dropped if it can be proved that the person’s intent was not vulgar, indecent or lewd and lascivious in manner. In relation to this, proving mere nudity alone is not sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction for indecent exposure. As with any sex crime charge it is important to not delay in retaining counsel. Many times sex crimes cases end on a more positive note when a lawyer is hired early on to protect your best interests and legal rights from start to finish.
If you have been charged with a sex crime as the result of an undercover investigation, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers online or call us toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).
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