A former Catholic priest who was accused of making a sex tape on a church altar has pleaded guilty to a felony obscenity charge, according to prosecutors in Louisiana.
The former priest, Rev Fr Travis Clark, 39, was arrested in October 2020, after police said he was filming himself having sex with two women on the altar of St Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Pearl River, about 40 miles northeast of New Orleans. He was pastor of the church at the time.
Rev Fr Clark pleaded guilty to felony obscenity on November 21 and was given a three-year suspended sentence with three years of supervised probation, according to the District Attorney’s office of the 22nd Judicial District in Covington.
On September 30, 2020, a passerby stopped to take a closer look after noticing the lights were on later than usual at the church and saw Rev Fr Clark having sex with two women who were dressed in corsets and high-heeled boots, Nola.com reported.
Sex toys, stage lighting and a mobile phone and camera mounted on tripods were also at the scene, according to the outlet.
The two women pleaded guilty in July to misdemeanor counts of institutional vandalism, according to WVUE.
‘Not actually illegal’
Rev Fr Clark’s attorney, Mr Michael Kennedy, told McClatchy News that he was glad that his client will not have to serve prison time but was disappointed in the overall outcome of the case.
“I hate to see our client, who had dedicated his entire life to serving the public, walk away as a felon because of one lapse of judgment,” he said. “It’s hard to watch someone who had done nothing but good in the world wind up as a felon for committing an act with two consenting adults. That’s a hard pill to swallow.”
Mr Kennedy said that the actions taken by Rev Fr Clark were “not actually illegal” and that the issue stemmed from where it took place and the fact that it was in public view. It also happened in St. Tammany Parish, which is more conservative than other parts of the state, he said.
“Had this taken place in a more liberal area, this would not have become a thing,” he said.
Altar was removed and burned
The Archdiocese of New Orleans did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr Kennedy said that Rev Fr Clark’s decision to enter a guilty plea in the case was about him wanting to move on with his life.
Mr Kennedy said his client had told him that he was experiencing different levels of loneliness at the time of his arrest because of pandemic-related restrictions and the isolation of being a priest.
“His decision was what is best for him is to put this behind him, and we support that fully,” he said.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans removed Rev Fr Clark from the ministry the day after his arrest, according to WDSU.
The altar was also removed and burned, the outlet reported. It has since been replaced, according to the district attorney’s office.
Rev Fr Clark also must pay a $1,000 fine, according to the District Attorney’s office.
Credit: Yahoo News