Priest Caught in Sex Abuse Sting
The Portland Priest Is Arrested after He Tries to Lure a 14-Year-Old Girl into Having Sex with Him
Grand Rapid Press
May 26, 2004
PORTLAND -- Accused of using pictures of himself to try to lure a teenage girl to have sex with him, a Portland priest is being held on a $5 million bond after he was nabbed by the state Attorney General's office as part of a sting aimed at suspected sexual predators.
Authorities called the alleged behavior of the Rev. Shamaun Beas "lewd, outlandish and just unnatural."
The Pakistan native, who once worked for the Holy Family Catholic Church in Sparta, was arrested Monday in Warren, where police say Beas arranged over the Internet to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex. Instead, he allegedly was chatting online with male, middle-aged investigators posing as "naive 14-year-old girls," said Warren City Attorney George Constance, who helped arrange the sting.
When Beas arrived at the bogus address where he allegedly thought the girl would be, officers swooped in to arrest him.
That same day, he was placed on administrative leave by the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, in which Beas is nearing the end of a three-year internship. He currently is assigned as an associate pastor at St. Patrick's Church in Portland.
A diocese spokeswoman said it had received no prior allegations against Beas, who was ordained 10 years ago in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
"Right now, everybody is just cooperating fully with the ... authorities," Mary Haarman said.
Beas was arraigned Tuesday on eight felony counts, four of which carry 20-year sentences. He is charged with using a computer to commit a crime, child sexually abusive activity, using a computer to distribute obscene material, and using a computer to communicate with another to commit a crime. He is being held in the Macomb County Jail.
The sting was part of an effort by the state Attorney General's office to find predators who use the Internet to sexually exploit children, said Matt Davis, a spokesman for the office.
The priest was one of two suspects arrested in the sting. The other was an Oakland County man who is registered as a sex offender in Michigan and Arizona.
But both men allegedly went on the Internet specifically looking for 14-year-old girls to talk to about sex, Constance said.
While investigators didn't go into specifics, they alleged Beas used a Web camera to transmit pictures to what he believed was a teenage girl.
"He didn't present himself anything near to a priest. He was lewd, outlandish and just unnatural," Constance said.
During the sting, investigators went into Internet chat rooms and engaged in online conversations with those looking to talk to teens girls.
"The priest initiated the sexual context and became sexually aggressive with the AG investigators," Constance said.
Investigators say they maintained Internet contact with Beas for six days before he was arrested.
"We closed in and made the arrest but he didn't say much of anything. He stopped speaking to us and feigned as if he didn't understand English" Constance said.
Another Pakistani priest working in the diocese who knows Beas was stunned by the news.
"I'm very, very sad," said the Rev. Ayub Nasar, a chaplain at Saint Mary's Mercy Medical Center. "It's an overwhelming grief, on top of the bishop's (Kevin Britt's) death."
At St. Patrick, Beas presided at Mass, heard confessions, did pre-marital counseling and visited the sick, Haarman said. His authority to perform any such duties in the diocese has been removed.
Since Beas is not a U.S. citizen and has eight felony counts against him, Constance said the judge ordered a $5 million cash bond for Beas, meaning he cannot be released from jail until it is posted
"This is a man who may pose a flight risk to his native country, and the judge took the proper procedures," the city attorney said in explaining the high bond.
The attorney general said the online sting is a warning to predators.
"The goal of this project is to strike fear into the heart of anyone who uses a computer to sexually exploit or prey upon a child," Mike Cox said in a prepared statement.
"Just as the predators cloak themselves in anonymity, so will law enforcement. Ultimately, those who would prey upon children won't know if they're communicating with their desired target or an investigator from my office," Cox said.
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