(Photo: FOX 25 video screencapture)
The Rev. Arthur Coyle, a high-ranking priest from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, has pleaded not guilty on Monday to a count of sexual conduct for allegedly paying a prostitute to have sex with him behind a cemetery.
Coyle, 62, was apparently arrested by police Sunday afternoon after he was found with a prostitute behind Lowell cemetery, the Associated Press reported. He has since been granted a $500 bail, and has taken a voluntary administrative leave from his duties at the church.
"While on administrative leave, Msgr. Coyle is prohibited from performing any public ministry. These restrictions will remain in place pending the outcome of the case. The steps taken today do not represent a determination of Msgr. Coyle's guilt or innocence as it pertains to these charges," the Boston Archdiocese said in an official statement on the issue.
"The Archdiocese asks for prayers for all impacted by this matter."
Coyle has been serving as Episcopal Vicar of the Merrimack Region for the Archdiocese since 2008, and oversees a number of parishes in the area.
According to accounts, this is not the first time he has gone out searching for sexual favors. The woman who he allegedly paid $40 on Sunday said this was the second time he had given her money for sex, and police noted that the priest has been observed circling around known prostitution spots in the area for close to a year.
"Detectives have observed Arthur Coyle in this same vehicle well over a dozen times," Lowell police Detective Rafael Rivera wrote in his report, according to the Boston Herald. "I have further observed him to stop and slow down every time he sees a single female or a prostitute in the area."
Rivera added that he had asked the priest why he had picked the woman up. "He (Coyle) said for 'sex' but they had not done anything. He went on to state that he had offered her $40 for oral sex."
Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney representing victims of the Catholic sex abuse scandal, told FOX 25: "You have the supervisor soliciting prostitution and apparently seeking it for months, and on the other hand you have that same person supervising priests with regards to their own sexual activity. It's not rocket science. There's a problem here."
Coyle was ordained in 1977 and has served as vicar since 2008, receiving the title of "Prelate of Honor" from Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. He is expected to be back in court in September.