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A Catholic priest in Italy has been arrested and accused of stealing over $100,000 from his parish which he then used to fund drug-fueled gay sex parties with his roommate.
Father Francesco Spagnesi, 40, was put on house arrest after authorities received a tip that his roommate was buying and importing the date-rape drug GHB, which they then sold to guests at his sex parties. According to Corriere, Spagnesi allegedly confessed to his lawyers and has promised to make full restitution to the parishioners he victimized.
“So much pain,” Bishop Giovanni Nerbini said in a videotaped message to parishioners at the Annunciation at Castellina after news of Spagnesi's arrest broke earlier this month.
Nerbini said church leaders became suspicious last spring about financial transfers from the parish coffers to Spagnesi. When he confronted the popular priest, Nerbini explained, “I was told that it was aid for needy people in the parish.”
As the internal investigation unfolded, however, he was forced to relieve Spagnesi of both his ministerial and fiduciary responsibilities at the parish. He then gave the priest a year-long sabbatical.
“In my heart, I wanted to save the person,” Nerbini said.
According to La Nazione, Spagnesi experienced a difficult past and had become addicted to drugs about two years ago. They also reported the Spagnesi had been sexually and romantically involved with a childhood friend for the past seven years.
Police became involved in the investigation following the tip of Spagnesi's roommate being in possession of various amounts of drugs. Prosecutors alleged he purchased the drugs both online from The Netherlands and local dealers, and the drugs were then sold to gay men attending their private group sex parties, which were also arranged online. According to TV Prato, investigators believe up to 200 men may have been involved in these parties.
One of Spagnesi’s lawyers, Costanza Malerba, said her client had confessed to the crimes and wanted to make full restitution to his aggrieved parishioners.
In 2017, the Catholic Church learned of drug-fueled orgies taking place in the apartments of a high-ranking aide within the Vatican itself. Vatican police allegedly received complaints from neighbors about loud noises coming from the secretary’s residence. Police allegedly entered the apartment to find men engaged in sexual activity and drugs.