In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Father Benedict Groeschel of the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, said he did not believe a priest found guilty of sexual absuse should go to jail if it was his first offence.
He even went on to describe disgraced Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky as a 'poor guy'.
Father Groeschel, an influential voice in the American catholic community, has written several books and appears weekly on a religious television network.
He said: 'People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to [be] a psychopath.
'But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.'
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