Catholic Priest and Former High School Employee Arrested for Sexual Abuse in Venice, Florida
A Roman Catholic priest was arrested on 11 counts of sexual abuse involving a 14-year-old boy. He reportedly was previously arrested in Washington, D.C. in 2007 for touching a 14-year-old boy on the thigh, which resulted in an assault conviction where he served 15 days in jail.
The 54-year-old priest was arrested on Feb. 1 in Venice, FL after authorities were told by the victim and his father that a sexual relationship between the boy and priest had been going on since September of last year.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office reportedly obtained enough evidence, from text messages, computer chats and a hotel receipt, to charge the priest with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor. Upon further investigation, the priest was charged with nine other sexual-related charges allegedly pertaining to the same victim. The allegations against him include fondling, oral sex and attempted anal sex.
Detectives are continuing their investigations for any other local victims, but no current charges have been filed in relation with other parties.
The priest is being held in Sarasota County jail with bail set at $190,000.
Most Florida sex crimes, like lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor, are charged as a felony. Lesser sexual offenses such as indecent exposure, are many times charged as a misdemeanor offense. The choice of punishing a crime as a felony or misdemeanor is made by the state prosecutor. Florida State Attorney’s offices have Sex Crimes’ Units composed of prosecutors that assertively track and prosecute sex crime offenders. Due to the social outcry related to these cases by the public, they are often pursued avidly by the media making them highly publicized.
Lewd and lascivious conduct, especially involving a child, is viewed as a very serious crime that carries very strict consequences. Even first time offenders can be subject to large amounts of prison time and court ordered counseling. Possible penalties for lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor include, prison or jail time, probation, parole, restitution to the victim or their family, community service, mandatory psychological treatment programs, confinement in a mental health facility and registering as a sexual offender, predator, or both. Alternative treatments such as psychological treatment programs and restrictive probation are usually only offered to first time offenders. Repeat sexual offenders are often sentenced to significant prison terms and very high fines.
If you have been accused of sexually abusing a minor anywhere in the state of Florida, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers online or call 866-608-5529.