Federal Magistrate Won't Release Somerset County Priest Charged with Sexual Abuse
By Torsten Ove
November 6, 2014
A Catholic priest in Somerset County under indictment in connection with the sexual abuse of orphans in Honduras will remain jailed pending an appeal of an order to let him out until his trial.
U.S. Magistrate Keith Pesto, presiding in Johnstown, today ruled that the Rev. Joseph Maurizio could be released on home detention as long his bank accounts are frozen and he has no access to substantial church funds that federal prosecutors are worried he may use to flee.
But the magistrate also said the order will be stayed while the U.S. attorney’s office appeals the release to a federal judge in the hopes of keeping him locked up in the Cambria County Jail.
Prosecutors say he’s both a risk to run and a danger to the community.
Father Maurizio, 69, the suspended priest at Our Lady Queen of Angels, is charged with engaging in illicit sex in foreign places and possession of child pornography.
Agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in September raided the chapel and rectory of the church and seized numerous computers, disks and other electronic items on which they said they found child porn.
Agents also said the priest had been traveling to Honduras for a decade under the guise of doing relief work and molested boys in an orphanage there after plying them with candy and cash.