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Suspended priest founded guilty of charges in sex tourism case

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Todd Berkey/ via Tribune-Democrat through AP

Rev. Joseph Maurizio is led into Federal Court for jury choice in Johnstown, Pa., Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, by U.S. Marshals. An essential witness in the trial of the U.S. priest charged with taking a trip to Honduras to molest bad street kids during missionary journeys has recanted on the stand.

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015|6:04 p.m.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa.– A Roman Catholic priest accused of taking a trip to Honduras to molest bad street kids during missionary journeys was convicted on Tuesday of numerous charges.

Federal jurors founded guilty the Rev. Joseph Maurizio Jr. of charges including 3 of four counts relevant to sex abuse of boys throughout journeys to a Honduran orphanage.

Maurizio was implicated of taking a trip abroad from 2004 to 2009 to have sex with three young boys, a charge referred to as sexual tourist. He also was founded guilty of ownership of youngster pornography and illegally transferring money to a charity to aid money the trips. Jurors acquitted him of another count of traveling outside the United States for sex with a minor and two other counts involving the transfer of funds.

The 70-year-old priest, who has actually been suspended from Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish in Somerset County, showed no response as the verdict was checked out to the stuffed courtroom. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

The priest repeatedly rejected the claims. His defense lawyer provided testimony recommending that job interviewers can plant ideas that lead to incorrect complaints.

Throughout the trial, a key witness recanted on the stand, affirming he was never molested by Maurizio as a 14-year-old child, however district attorneys argued that another youth had actually witnessed the abuse. 2 other Honduran guys testified that Maurizio abused them, one stating the priest offered him candy so the priest could fondle him and the other saying the priest asked to take his picture while he and another child, both about 14, were taking showers.

Defense lawyer Steven Passarello said he and his customer were “really dissatisfied” however respected the jury’s choice and would be dealing with post-trial motions and any appeals if needed.

Elizabeth Williams, president of ProNino UNITED STATE, the nonprofit that ran the orphanage between 2002 and 2011, stated the verdict was a recognition of the former orphans’ accusations.

“It sends out a clear message that you cannot cross the united state border to molest children,” Williams told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.