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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Priest Sentenced for Molesting Honduran Boys

(CN) - A Pennsylvania priest was sentenced Wednesday to more than 16 years in prison for sexually abusing two boys living at shelters in Honduras.

Joseph Maurizio Jr.'s 200-month sentence comes after an eight-day trial last September, after which a jury found him guilty of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, possession of child pornography and international money laundering.

Maurizio, 70, created a charity called Honduras Interfaith Ministries (HIM) in 2001, according to the U.S. Justice Department. HIM eventually became the largest donor to Pro Niño, a nonprofit that provided shelter and other resources to poor and at-risk children in a rural Honduras town.

The priest reportedly used HIM funds to go to Honduras 13 times between 2004 and 2009, during which he sexually abused two young boys living at shelters.

Evidence at his trial showed that Maurizio used his charity position to get access to the boys and purchase them gifts, thereby gaining their trust. The Central City, Pa., resident also paid the boys to engage in sexual acts with him on his last trip to Honduras, according to the Justice Department.

He also kept "digital media depicting the minors he sexually abused and other images of child sexual exploitation" in a church rectory, prosecutors say.

In addition to nearly 17 years in prison, Maurizio was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and $100,000 in restitution to each victim.

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