Pennsylvania Priest Held on Sex-Tourism Charges

     (CN) – A Roman Catholic priest from Pennsylvania was indicted today on charges of traveling to a foreign country to engage in sex with children and of possession of child pornography.
     The Rev. Joseph D. Maurizio Jr., 69, a priest at the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, was arrested two weeks ago and has been in custody since his arrest.
     According to the indictment and other court documents, Maurizio traveled from Pennsylvania to Honduras each year from 1999 to 2009 to assist a non-profit organization that provides services to children there.
     Prosecutors allege that while he was in Honduras, Maurizio provided money or candy to minor boys in an orphanage and engaged in unlawful sexual activities.
     They also allege Maurizio is also charged with possession of material depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
     The court documents say investigators executed search warrants on Sept. 12, 2014, at the rectory at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Central City, Pennsylvania, and a farm owned by Maurizio in Windber, Penn., where they seized various computers and electronic devices, including a hard drive allegedly containing images depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
     Rev. Maurizio has maintained his innocence. According to published reports, he says the allegations against him are the result of a plot by the Honduran government to thwart his charity work.
     Maurizio faces up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he is convicted of the child sex charge, and an additional $250,000 fine and supervised release for as much as his lifetime if convicted on the child pornography charge.
     In a statement, the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown said it was “profoundly disturbed by the allegations against Father Maurizio.”

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