Italian priest sentenced to nine years for child abuse

AFP , Thursday 3 May 2012

In the latest child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, an Italian priest is sentenced to nine years

An Italian court on Thursday sentenced a Catholic priest to nine years and seven months in prison for sexually abusing a minor, attempting to prostitute a 17-year-old and giving drugs to teenagers.

Riccardo Seppia, 52, who was arrested last year in his parish in Genoa, was also ordered to pay 28,000 euros ($37,000) in damages, Italian media reported.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 11 years and eight months.

"I am sorry for my morally reprehensible behaviour," Seppia told the court.

His lawyer Paolo Bonanni said: "This is not an admission of guilt.

"My client recognises his behaviour was maybe immoral but he committed no crime," he said, adding that Seppia would appeal the verdict.

The Catholic Church has been rocked by thousands of child abuse scandals in recent years in Europe and the United States, many of them dating back decades. Only very few cases have so far come to light in Italy.

In the last major case a court in Rome in March 2011 sentenced a former priest to 15 years in prison for abusing seven children between 1998 and 2008 when he was arrested.

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