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Former priest among four probed in Italian sex slavery cult

FLORENCE, Italy, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Four people, including a former priest, were under investigation Friday for a cult involving sex slavery in Tuscany, Italian police said.

Authorities were looking into allegations of mistreatment of nine men and a woman in a religious cult based in Montecchio di Cortona, as well as misappropriation of funds, the newspaper Gazetta del Sud reported Friday.

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Florence investigators said cult members were subjected to sexual and psychological violence, and identified the cult leader as Mauro Cioni, 68, a former priest who left the Catholic clergy in 1985.

In the late 1980s Cioni found adherents to what he termed living "another form of Christianity," forcing them to cut ties to family and work, hand over their financial holdings and submit themselves to his sex-related orders, investigators said.

Prosecutors have accused former cult member Carlo Carli of styling his own cult after Cioni's.

Two other members, Franco Bigazzi, 56, and Giorgio Bigozzi, 52 face fraud charges, the newspaper said.

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