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Priest sentenced for 'rape and assault'

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Bible and rosary. File photo: Issagm/Wikipedia
11:03 CET+01:00
A Catholic priest from Lower Austria who had what he claims was a consensual love affair with a younger man has been sentenced to four years in prison for rape and sexual assault.

When the allegations first surfaced, Father Fabian’s parishioners reportedly rallied around to support him, with the Kurier newspaper reporting that his sexuality and close relationship with the adult son of a family friend was an open secret.

The 49-year-old was sentenced by a court in Wiener Neustadt for repeatedly drugging and sexually assaulting his 26-year-old acquaintance. The sentence was upheld on Thursday by the high court in Vienna - with the judge saying it was important to send a signal to the clergy that sexual assaults will not be taken lightly.

His lawyer, Michael Dohr, maintains that the relationship was a love affair and “a private matter which had nothing to do with his position as a pastor - so saying this will act as a deterrent to others is a joke.”

Dohr has said he will petition the court for a retrial, and that he has testimony from witnesses who said that they saw the priest and the 26-year-old cuddling and openly displaying affection in public.

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