The Daily Telegraph

Priest accused of using money from collection to deal drugs

- By Olivia Acland in Rome

AN ITALIAN priest has been placed under house arrest after he allegedly stole money from his congregati­on’s collection tin to buy and deal illegal drugs used to fuel repeated orgies.

Francesco Spagnesi, from the Tuscan city of Prato, had already been banned from collecting cash from churchgoer­s after a colleague noticed parish funds were disappeari­ng earlier this year, according to the parish’s press office.

But he apparently continued to do so, claiming that the money was destined for poor families in the region.

Instead Mr Spagnesi, 40, is alleged to have used the money to import drugs from the Netherland­s, including gamma butyrolact­one (GBL), an illegal drug that can be used to enhance sexual pleasure and performanc­e but is also commonly associated with date rape.

He then reportedly gave it out at gay sex parties that were attended by up to 200 people in total over time.

The inquiry centres on “the repeated importatio­n of notable quantities of GBL, the so-called rape drug”, said Giuseppe Nicolosi, the chief prosecutor. “And the access, during these meetings, to both this substance and to cocaine.”

While GBL can be used as a date rape drug, the police said they had spoken to around 10 people who attended the illicit parties, all of whom say that they took it willingly.

Mr Spagnesi’s alleged accomplice and boyfriend, Alessio Regina, was arrested in August when police found illegally imported GBL in the back of his car. The priest’s alleged involvemen­t came to light shortly afterwards.

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