Feb. 6 (UPI) -- The bishop of Padua, Italy, said a Catholic priest will likely be defrocked after accusations of organizing orgies on church property.
Police began an investigation of Father Andrea Contin, 48, after he was accused of having as many as 30 lovers, taking some of them to French nudist retreats and leading orgies at his small Padua church. A statement to police by one accuser said Contin "always carried a briefcase full of vibrators, sex toys, masks and bondage equipment," beat her and encouraged her to have sex with a horse.
The investigation was opened in December. Contin at first denied charges by three women who said they were his lovers. The Italian newspaper Il Gazzettino reported he confessed to some of the charges after a search of his residence found video evidence of orgies, the news website The Local.it said.
The newspaper The Independent, citing the Times of London, said Contin is also accused of supplying some of his alleged lovers to men found on wife-swapping websites.
Another priest, identified as Father Cavazzana, admitted to involvement in the orgies, sometimes as cameraman. Like all Catholic priests, Contin and Cavazzana took vows of celibacy when they entered the priesthood.
Bishop Claudio Cipolla said Contin will be relieved of his priestly duties, regardless of the investigation's outcome, describing Contin's actions as "unacceptable for a priest, for a Christian and even for a man."
"I am incredulous and pained by the accusations. Even if, at the end of this affair, there are no legal consequences, we have a duty by canon law to take disciplinary action," Cipolla said last week. He added his decision was not based on the media furor over the allegations, but came after "direct investigation and verification that these events mean Don Contin is not fit to carry out his [priestly] mission."
Cipolla said he consulted Pope Francis about the investigation, who told him to "be strong" in discipline.