Italian priest jailed for sex crimes against minors

A Catholic priest in Italy has been sentenced to almost a decade in prison for sexual violence against minors.

A court in the northwest city of Genoa sentenced Riccardo Seppia to nine years, six months and 20 days in prison and fined him 28,000 euros.

Seppia was found guilty of attempted sexual violence, attempted prostitution of a minor and of attempting to furnish cocaine to minors.

The priest was arrested in May 2011 on suspicion of sexual violence against a 16-year-old altar boy and sex abuse of other youths.

He was suspended by the Vatican soon after his arrest. A check of his mobile phone allegedly showed up obscene text messages sent to teenage boys, including a 15-year-old with whom he had arranged a sexual encounter.

The Vatican has come under attack in the US and Europe for neglecting accusations of sexual abuse of children by priests.

Seppia, before the sentencing, asked for forgiveness for his behaviour.

His lawyer said he would appeal to get a lighter sentence. Italy allows two appeals before a suspect is considered guilty of a crime.

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