The Italian "pusher priest," Fr. Francesco Spagnesi, was arrested on September 14, 2021. He was charged with importing, using, and selling drugs, including the date-rape-drug GHB, which he imported from the Netherlands. Fr. Spagnesi is placed under house arrest pending investigation of the drug-related charges, including charges of concealing his HIV-positive status.
Talking to his lawyers, the priest tearfully acknowledged his actions, "I don't recognize myself anymore; the cocaine vortex has swallowed me," he said. Fr. Spagnesi continued that it was the drugs that made him betray and lie to his parishioners. "It made me take actions that I am ashamed of; now I'm HIV positive," he added.
Aside from the drug-trafficking charges, the police are also investigating Fr. Spagnesi for not disclosing to his intimate partners that he is HIV-positive. The priest claimed that he is taking antiretroviral medications and have been using protection during intercourse. At least 15 witnesses refuted Fr. Spagnesi's claims.
Alessio Regina, Fr. Spagnesi's roommate who was arrested along with the priest for the drug-related charges, also tested positive for HIV. Fr. Spagnesi hosted parties and sold drugs together with Regina; they also hosted drug-fueled sex orgies. According to Italian police, at least 20 of the regular attendees of the priest's parties and orgies tested positive for HIV. Also, from police reports, the two men use an online gay dating app to invite participants to their parties.
Francesco Spagnesi quit medical school to become a priest. He became a parish priest for the Italian Catholic Diocese of Prato. Fr. Spagnesi is a beloved and trusted figure in his local parish known as a "young, brilliant, all-involving and refined priest."
Suspicions began when Fr. Spagnesi withdrew more than $117 thousand from the parish's bank account, which prompted the bishop of the Diocese of Prato to remove his access from the parish's finances. Barred from withdrawing money, he resorted to clipping cash from the collection plates. He also solicited money from parishioners whom he told that he was raising funds for low-income families.
Italian police are currently probing more than 200 individuals who have attended Fr. Spagnesi's parties for the past two years.
As of the writing of this article, the Diocese of Prato did not release any statement nor announced any plans to take legal actions for Fr. Spagnesi's financial fraud.