ROME—Father Andrea Contin apparently liked all kinds of sex—orgies, bondage and games with erotic toys. He also clearly liked all kinds of women, especially widows and those going through divorce. The 48-year-old priest from the northern region of Padua has been under investigation by the Catholic Church and local police for essentially preying on praying women for the better part of a month.
On Friday, his superior Monsignor Cladio Cipolla confirmed that he had initiated the process to have the priest defrocked, and that Contin had accomplices in the parish. “The behavior of Father Andrea was in complete contrast with the commitments he made to the Church,” Cipolla said. “He had an objectionable lifestyle and, as such, is not eligible to exercise the priestly ministry. His actions have also compromised him to such an extent he can no longer represent himself as a priest, even after his repentance.”
According to a separate police complaint filed by a 49-year-old woman reported as his “first lover” with whom he reportedly fathered a child, and with whom he wanted another, Contin often carried a briefcase “full of vibrators, sex toys, masks and bondage equipment.”
The woman also claimed that he wanted sex “night and day” and once coerced her to engage in bestiality by “attempting” to make her have sex with a horse. She and others said that his erotic games often spiraled into domestic violence, especially when they met in the church rectory, often after mass.
He reportedly carried the satchel of sex toys on pastoral visits to widows and women going through marital strife in the event he could seduce them on the spot. One witness said he kept the vibrators and leather straps alongside his priestly vestments and holy water.
Contin, who was considered ultra conservative among parishioners, often preached against the “evils of adultery” and warned his flock against television and Internet pornography.
Police and church officials say that when he wasn’t at the pulpit, Contin organized orgy outings with married and divorced women at a swinger resort in France, which he told superiors were akin to spiritual and missionary outings. He also reportedly listed many of his lovers on wife-swapping websites and, according to police, pimped other women out to friends. Other times, he would pose as a lawyer and seduce women in fancy Venetian restaurants.
None of the more than 30 women who have now signed on to a complaint are under age, but Contin stands accused of both psychological and physical assault, in addition to abetting prostitution.
Confirmation of the lurid accusations came late last week when Cipolla called a press conference to say Contin had confessed to his crimes against the Church and was “repenting.” Calling the priest’s actions “unacceptable for a priest, for a Christian and even for a man,” he said that he felt like “a father of a son who has fallen from grace.”
Police have not yet officially charged Contin, whose whereabouts are undisclosed, with any crime, but they did seize computers and memory sticks, reported to be filled with pornography and home videos of the orgies from his room in the house he shared with other priests. One of his colleagues at the church, Father Don Cavazzana admitted to Cipolla that he was the videographer of many of the films but that he did it “under extreme duress.” Cavazzana is not under investigation by secular authorities. It is unclear whether he also had sex with any of the women.
Cipolla says the second priest’s involvement was only occasional and “partial” and that he does not face defrocking. A third priest is also under investigation by the parish for his apparent participatory role in the orgies and swinger trips to France.
Late last week, Cipolla says he got a call from Pope Francis who offered him prayers and encouragement and told him to “stay strong” as he moved forward with the investigation and eventual defrocking. The Padua church has set up a dedicated phone number and email address for other victims and witnesses to give information anonymously.
Father Contin had been in Padua for ten years, having received his assignment when his predecessor was defrocked for fathering a child with a woman in the parish.