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Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian bishops' conference, was one of Pope Benedict's main advisors in preparing a new code to investigate child sex abuse allegations. Sandro Perozzi/AP
Sexual Abuse

HIV-positive Italian priest arrested over paedophilia claims - in diocese of key anti-paedophilia Bishop

A key ally of Pope Benedict in establishing a tough policy on how bishops handle abuse allegations is hit with problems of his own.

AN INFLUENTIAL ITALIAN Bishop who has acted as one of Pope Benedict’s key advisors on clerical sexual abuse allegations has been rocked by allegations that a priest in his own diocese had sought sexual encounters with teenage boys.

Italian newspaper La Stampa reports that Angelo Bagnasco, the archbishop of Genoa and the head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, was one of the pope’s key partners in devising a new worldwide code for dealing with allegations of clerical sexual abuse published earlier thsi week.

But now a 51-year-old priest from a parish just outside the city has been arrested – amid claims he asked a Moroccan drug dealer to arrange sexual encounters between himself and boys as young as 14.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur has carried local reports that Seppia has also admitted to being HIV positive.

“I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger. 14-year-olds are OK,” Fr Riccardo Seppia is alleged to have said, according to La Stampa’s report translated by TIME Magazine.

He is said to have added:

Look for needy boys who have family issues.

The report goes on to state how Seppia told a friend – a former trainee priest, now a barman – that their town’s shopping centres were the best place to meet minors, and says the priest is also charged with offering cocaine in exchange for sex with men over 18.

Archbishop Bagnasco is said to have asked the Pope for a “particular blessing for my Archdiocese” in light of Seppia’s arrest.

Seppia’s lawyers insist that recordings of tapped conversations he had on the phone were “word games”.

Read the full La Stampa report at >

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