A Catholic priest in Illinois, who last year got stuck in a pair of handcuffs, was engaged in “non-sexual” conduct at the time, and the event was brought on by “stress” – according to a bishop.

The incident happened on 28 November when Father Tom Donovan of St Aloysius Church, Springfield, Illinois, called 911 from the rectory and told a dispatcher that he needed help getting out of handcuffs.

The Illinois Times quoted sources as suggesting the priest was also wearing some sort of gag – as his voice sounded garbled or muffled on the 911 audio recording.

Father Donovan has since taken a leave of absence from his church.

In a statement on Tuesday, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois said: “On December 8th, I met with Father Donovan and Monsignor Carl Kemme, my Vicar General, in my office at the Catholic Pastoral Center.

“Father Donovan said that he was mortified by what happened and acknowledged that the information that had been reported to me was basically accurate. He insisted that he had been alone the whole time of this incident and denied that there was any sexual component to this.”

The statement added that Father Donovan “is being treated by a clinical therapist and is receiving appropriate medical care” and that he is “suffering from a psychological condition that manifests itself in self-bondage as a response to stress.”