- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to fondling a boy has been sentenced to 10 years in a Mississippi prison, followed by deportation to Mexico.

The Rev. Jose Vazquez was ordered to serve the sentence without possibility of parole. Jones County Circuit Judge Dal Williamson also ordered that Vazquez serve an additional five years in prison if he is caught re-entering the United States after he’s deported.

Vazquez, 37, was arrested in September after a man reported inappropriate behavior between his 12-year-old son and the priest.

“This behavior is reprehensible and will not be tolerated. We continue to be saddened by his actions and for his victim,” the Biloxi diocese said in a statement. “When first notified about the accusation, diocesan officials cooperated fully with civil authorities, and the priest was immediately suspended from all ministry and removed as a pastor.”

Diocesan spokesman Terry Dixon declined comment when asked if Vazquez has been removed from the priesthood, or if the diocese faces any civil lawsuits because of Vazquez.

A native of La Mesa, Mexico, Vazquez came to the United States to study for the priesthood and was ordained for the Biloxi diocese in 2008. He was an assistant pastor at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Laurel and later moved in 2011 to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hattiesburg. Vazquez served in other churches while a deacon. At the time of his arrest, Vazquez pastored St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Wiggins and St. Lucy Catholic Mission in Lucedale.

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Follow Jeff Amy at: https://twitter.com/jeffamy. Read his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/author/jeff-amy


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