Priest indicted on prostitution charge

Father Alberto Paolo Lesmo suspended by Archbishop Scola

(ANSA) - Milan, March 25 - Milan prosecutors have indicted Father Alberto Paolo Lesmo, accusing him of paying with cash and drugs for sex with a minor, ANSA sources said on Friday.
    Prosecutors said that between 2009 and 2011, Lesmo paid a boy aged between 14 and 17 for sex, at times also paying with illegal drugs.
    Another person not connected to the Church has also been indicted in the case, and prosecutors said that on one occasion that suspect raped the minor involved.
    A preliminary hearing date has not yet been set.
    Milan Archbishop Angelo Scola suspended Lesmo on Friday from his duties as parish priest at Santa Marcellina Church in the Milan neighborhood of Muggiano, as well as deacon of the neighboring Baggio district.
    The Archdiocese of Milan said it learned of the investigation on March 2.
    It said it also learned that Lesmo was the subject of a police search at the parish church in 2013, but that "the priest didn't notify his superiors at the diocese in any way".
    "Only in recent days was the archdiocese given permission to intervene, so as to not obstruct the investigation," the archdiocese said. The archidiocese has opened its own investigation, and it said that at no time was the archbishop or the archidiocese aware of the crimes for which Lesmo is accused.
    Scola on Friday expressed "shock and sorrow" at the news.
    ANSA sources said prosecutors had initially asked for Lesmo's arrest but were denied by a preliminary judge.
    Prosecutors then appealed to the Court of Reexamination, which confirmed the arrest request, but Lesmo's defence attorney appealed to Italy's Court of Cassation.
    It rejected the Court of Reexamination's decision based on a recent legal change requiring pre-trial custody orders to be carried out in cases where the crimes in question present a "current danger".
    As Lesmo's alleged crimes occurred in 2009-2011, the Court of Cassation rejected the arrest request.


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