US priest sentenced to 16 years for sexually abusing boys

Pennsylvania priest sentenced to 16 years in prison for sexually abusing minors living in Honduras shelter

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

In this file photo, former Roman Catholic priest Joseph Maurizio Jr. is led by US Marshals into US federal court in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

A Pennsylvania Roman Catholic priest was sentenced on Wednesday to more than 16 years in prison and ordered to pay thousands of dollars of fine for sexually abusing two boys living in shelters provided for poor and abandoned children in Honduras, a federal prosecutor said.

Joseph Maurizio Jr., 70, worked in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, the central Pennsylvania diocese criticised for rampant child sex abuse in a grand jury report released on Tuesday.

The report also said hundreds of children were victimised by about 50 priests and that bishops covered up their actions, but authorities said no criminal charges will be filed, as the alleged incidents are too old to be prosecuted.

A federal jury convicted Maurizio in September of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, possession of child pornography and international money laundering, US Attorney David Hickton said in a press statement.

Prosecutors said Maurizio started a charity for Pro Nino, a non-profit organisation that provided shelter to at-risk children living near San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Maurizio committed the sexual crimes during his missionary trips to the central American country between 2004 and 2009, Hickton said, adding that he also kept digital images of child sexual exploitation, including images of his victims.

The prosecutor said, he at least once paid the boys to engage in sexual acts with him.

Maurizio was sentenced to 200 months in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and $10,000 in restitution to each victim.

Church sexual abuse first emerged in 2002, when it was revealed that US bishops in the Boston area redeployed abusers instead of defrocking them. Similar cover-ups around the world have come to light ever since and tens of millions of dollars have been paid in compensation.

In a similar incident on Wednesday, Cardinal George Pell, one of Pope Francis' top advisers said he should have done more to stop the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church decades ago after a lawyer for an Australian inquiry into child sex abuse suggested that he was lying when he denied knowledge of criminal allegations concerning two pedophile priests.

TRTWorld, Reuters