Philippine priest caught with 13-year-old girl arrested on child sex charges: Church

MANILA (AFP) - A Roman Catholic priest has been arrested on child sex charges after he was allegedly caught with a 13-year-old girl procured from a pimp, a Philippine church official said Tuesday (Aug 1).

The church and the police are conducting separate investigations into the case of Monsignor Arnel Lagarejos after he was arrested in a suburb of Manila on Friday, said retired Bishop Oscar Cruz.

Lagarejos, a parish priest and head of a religious college near the capital, was taken into custody by police after the girl was handed over to him by her pimp, said Cruz, who is heading the church's investigation.

The monsignor has been suspended from all his functions in the diocese and at the college and is in custody, Cruz told AFP.

Police declined to comment, citing a law requiring confidentiality of all parties in such cases.

The results of the church investigation will be sent to the Vatican for judgement, Cruz said, adding that Lagarejos could be stripped of all his priestly functions if found guilty.

The incident has shocked the highly conservative Philippines, where about 80 percent of the population are Roman Catholic and where the church has great influence.