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Priest who stole £85k from church to fund drug-fuelled orgies jailed for three years

Emily Chudy December 10, 2021
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Priest who stole from church to fund orgies jailed for three years

Father Francesco Spagnesi has been jailed for three years (Screenshot: YouTube/MundoNews)

An Italian priest who stole from his church to fund drug-fuelled orgies has been jailed for three years. 

Father Francesco Spagnesi, 40, was sentenced to three years and eight months in jail after he stole €100,000 (around £85,000) from his parish, much of which he spent on gay sex parties.

The Roman Catholic priest, who was arrested in September, will also be made to return the money he stole. 

Spagnesi’s sentence was negotiated as part of a plea deal; charges of drug dealing, trafficking and misappropriation were upheld, while charges of attempted grievous harm were dropped.

The charges of grievous harm against the priest were due to him allegedly having unprotected sex with partners without telling them that he was HIV-positive. 

According to the defendant’s lawyers, Spagnesi was taking antiretroviral drugs, which meant he could not transmit HIV, with the priest adding that he had always told his partners about his HIV status. 

Spagnesi has been removed from his duties by the Diocese of Prato, Tuscany. 

He told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: “I wanted to be the shepherd of my faithful, guide them towards the ways of the Lord, and I ended up in vice and perdition.”

Alessio Regina, Spagnesi’s boyfriend, was given three years and two months in jail for being complicit in buying and selling drugs. 

Spagnesi is a former medical student who dropped out to join the priesthood at the age of 26, reportedly saying he found a “fullness and joy in making myself available to others”. 

He was ordained in 2007, and made a parish priest in 2009.

Spagnesi was arrested after police were tipped off that his roommate had imported a litre of the “date rape” drug GHB from the Netherlands, according to The Times.

Suspicions were raised when a parish accountant discovered that the priest had withdrawn more than €100,000 from the parish’s bank account, money which police believe was used to buy drugs for lavish parties.

When he was no longer able to withdraw money from this account, he allegedly began taking money from the collection plate and soliciting money directly from parishioners, who were told he was raising money for low-income families. 

At the time of his arrest, Spagnesi told Corriere Della Sera: “I don’t recognise myself anymore, the cocaine vortex has swallowed me. The drug made me betray my parishioners, it made me tell lies, it made me take actions that I am ashamed of.

“I ask everyone for forgiveness.”

More: Italy

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