LOWELL, Mass. (AP/MyFoxBoston.com) – A high-ranking priest with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is facing a prostitution charge.
Authorities say the Rev. Arthur Coyle was granted $500 bail after pleading not guilty Monday in Lowell to a count of sexual conduct for a fee.
Coyle is the Episcopal Vicar for the Merrimack Region, meaning he oversees several parishes in the area. He lives at the rectory of St. Rita's Parish in Lowell.
Police say the 62-year-old was arrested just after 5 p.m. Sunday after he was allegedly found with a prostitute behind a Lowell cemetery.
Coyle reportedly gave the prostitute $40 to perform a sexual act, and as proof for police, she showed them the two $20 bills. The woman told police it was the second time he had paid her in return for sexual acts.
Police had reportedly been watching Coyle circle known prostitution spots for close to a year and stopping for known prostitutes more than a dozen times in the past 10 months.
FOX 25 spoke with one of the attorneys representing victims of the Catholic sex abuse scandal who says he is shocked by the hypocrisy of it all.
"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," Mitchell Garabedian said.
The Archdiocese of Boston released a statement Monday saying Coyle has taken a voluntary administrative leave from his assignment, as a result of his arrest. While on leave, Coyle is prohibited from performing any public ministry.
The restrictions will remain in place pending the outcome of the case, the Archdiocese said.
Coyle was ordained in 1977 and has been vicar since 2008. In the beginning of 2013, Coyle was given the title "Prelate of Honor" by Cardinal Sean O'Malley who called Coyle's service "exemplary."
Coyle will be back in court in September.
Full Statement from the Archdiocese of Boston:
(Braintree, Mass.) August 5 2013…The Archdiocese of Boston today announced that Rev. Monsignor Arthur M. Coyle has taken a voluntary administrative leave from his assignment, as a result of his arrest on charges related to sexual misconduct involving an adult. Msgr. Coyle has been serving as Episcopal Vicar of the Merrimack Region for the Archdiocese since 2008.
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 Archdiocese asks for prayers for all impacted by this matter.