TRENTON, N.J., Sept. 29 (UPI) -- The Roman Catholic diocese in Trenton, N.J., has issued a statement confirming that a priest had been removed from his parish due to lurid text messages.
The statement released last week said the priest, Matthew Riedlinger, had indeed engaged in inappropriate communications with adults and that no sexual contact had taken place.
The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger said Sunday Riedlinger was the subject of complaints to the diocese since 2011, including from one of the young men, who said he and Rieldlinger exchanged some 1,200 graphic texts while Riedlinger was under the impression his text partner was a 16-year-old boy.
The text partner was actually Timothy Schmalz, a 23-year-old college student who said he set up his own sting with Riedlinger because the Jackson, N.J. priest had been sexually harassing him since he was a teenager.
The newspaper said Schmalz was one of five young men Riedlinger allegedly engaged in lurid communications. He was removed from his parish and later granted a leave of absence from the priesthood. No criminal charges have been filed.
The Star-Ledger said the statement was released last weekend after reporters approached Bishop David O'Connell for comment on the alleged incidents.