A priest landed himself in a deep mess after his secret affair with a woman who he was religiously advising was exposed.
The 32-year-old California priest, Jacob Bertrand, is facing a two-count charge of criminal sexual conduct in third degree.
A complaint obtained by NBC Los Angeles disclosed that the priest allegedly had sex with the Minnesota woman in 2010.
Bertrand, who is a priest at the Diocese of San Diego, also allegedly paid the woman to keep her from talking about their relationship.
The complaint, which was filed in the County of Dakota in Minnesota, alleges that Bertrand and the woman met in 2009 while they were studying in Rome.
After they moved back to the US, Bertrand allegedly had sex with her while she was seeking religious advice from him, NBC reported.
In 2009, the two flew to Minnesota, where they allegedly stayed with the woman’s relatives.
The complaint also claims that two sexual encounters took place on that trip, including one in her parent’s basement while he was performing mass, NBC reported.
He then allegedly told the woman that what happened was ‘so mystical’ that no one should know about it.
Shortly after that encounter, Bertrand wrote a letter to the woman apologizing for his actions, the complaint claims.
In the complaint the woman also says that he sent her $1,000 to pay for school and during a phone conversation Bertrand told her: ‘The Devil tempts me to think that you will tell someone and ruin my ministry.’
The woman filed a police report in April of this year after she reported the sexual encounters to church officials in 2012.
Her claims were forwarded to the Diocese for investigation in 2014, NBC reported.
The Diocese of San Diego confirmed to the station that Bertrand is facing these charges in Minnesota.
A leave of absence was granted to Bertrand after Aida Bustos, spokesperson
The statement obtained by NBC said there were ‘no allegations’ against Bertrand in San Diego, ‘where he remains on a leave of absence and currently has no faculties’.
Bertrand, who faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, also served at the Santa Sophia Parish in Spring Valley from 2013 to 2015.
Fr Devdas Masillamony, of the Santa Sophia Church, told the station that he is shocked by the allegations against Bertrand.
‘He’s a very caring person. He loved the people. Loved his ministry. He’s a man of prayer and a very charismatic person,’ said Masillamony.
Bertrand’s attorney told NBC that they will fight against these allegations, which are not true.
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