Ex-Priest Claims Entrapment
Tamburrino Says Police, Teen Induced Behavior in Sex Case

By Rocco Laduca
February 10, 2006

UTICA- Defrocked priest James Tamburrino of Rome says he is facing current sex-related charges involving two teens because he was entrapped by police in July, according to defense motions filed in Oneida County Court.

When Tamburrino, 38, of Pilmore Drive, agreed to meet a teenager last summer, he did so only after he was "actively induced or encouraged to commit the crime charged by the police," Tamburrino's attorney, Pal A. Lengyel-Leahu of California, wrote in his motion papers.

Tamburrino is due to begin trial March 27 on allegations he had a 15-year-old male pose sexually for a photograph in Rome and that he asked another teen to pose for pictures.

Tamburrino appeared in court Thursday to suppress certain oral statements he made to police and certain evidence he claimed was seized illegally. He also is seeking to suppress from the trial any discussion of previous acts.

Judge Michael L. Dwyer will rule on those matters at a later date.

Rome police said that after Tamburrino approached the second teen in July, the teen contacted police and they arranged to record a phone conversation between the teen and Tamburrino, prosecutors said.

But the ex-priest's attorney is alleging this was a case of entrapment.

"The tape recording demonstrates it was the alleged victim who initiated the call to the defendant and therefore convinced the defendant to engage in the conduct for which he was charged with attempted use of a child in a sexual performance and endangering the child," Lengyel-Leahu stated in court papers. Otherwise, Tamburrino was not predisposed to commit the alleged crime, the papers state.

Tamburrino was previously defrocked from the Carmelite religious order in 2001 after sex-related allegations were made against him in the Bronx, according to the Times Herald Record newspaper in Middletown. At the time, the Carmelite order paid to settle a civil lawsuit that accused Tamburrino and three other priests of paying a 16-year-old boy, who worked as a church secretary, for sex between 1996 and 1998, the newspaper reported.

Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Dawn Catera Lupi, who is prosecuting this latest case, said the suggestion of entrapment is a defense that would have to be judged by a jury.

Tamburrino, who is free on $20,000 bond, is charged with using a child in a sexual performance, attempting to use a child in a sexual performance, possessing a sexual performance by a child and two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

According to his police statement, Tamburrino said he agreed to meet a male in a Burger King parking lot "to see if they liked each other after he spoke with him on the phone." Tamburrino said the teen told him he was 19 years old.

Tamburrino also told police they would find a photograph of a male in his motel room, but that the photo was already in the room when he got there. Police seized the photo and a camera from Tamburrino's room, as well as various computer, photographic and video equipment from a Pilmore Drive residence, police said.


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