Father Kevin Gray, 64, a former pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Waterbury, was charged this week with first-degree larceny, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

News reports said he appeared to live a humble life, not using a car and and walking to Mass from another parish.

He is accused of stealing the money over seven years and spending it on designer clothes, expensive hotels, restaurants and luxury electrical goods.

He is also said to have opened credit card accounts for two other male escorts, who he met at a male strip club and through an escort service. One escort allegedly charged $67,000 to the account, including more than $5,000 on college fees. The other spent almost £50,000, including gym fees and Louis Vuitton items.

Fr Gray is said to have met a third man in a park who he allegedly told he was a lawyer. The man said Fr Gray paid for his Harvard classes, piano lessons and vet bills.

Waterbury police Capt. Christopher Corbett said Fr Gray lived a “double life”.

According to an affidavit filed with the Connecticut superior court, Fr Gray admitted the charges and said he stole the money because he did not like being a priest.

It said: “Gray became very bitter with the church starting in 2001 when he was transferred to a parish in New Hartford while his mother was dying in New Haven. Mr Gray stated that when he started in 2003, he began taking the money because he felt the church owed it to him.”

The affidavit added that Fr Gray told his parishioners he was suffering from cancer but this was later found to be a lie.