Catholic Priests Arrested for 'Lewd and Lascivious Behavior' Next to Playground


A pair of Illinois priests are facing criminal charges in Florida after police say they were seen engaging in oral sex inside of a car parked on the street earlier this week.

According to WFOR, Miami Beach police officers responded to the call Monday afternoon and caught the two men still engaged in the sexual act.

A police report states 30-year-old Edwin Cortez and 39-year-old Diego Berrio were “in full view of the public passing by on Ocean Drive and the sidewalk.”

The men were identified by authorities as Catholic priests living at the Mission San Juan Diego Parish in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights.

The two men continued the lewd act for a time after police arrived, appearing not to notice the officers’ presence.

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“We observed the two males performing the sex act, the officer had to tap on the window to get their attention,” said police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez.

One mother playing with her child at a nearby playground said she was shocked not only by the brazenness of the alleged crime, but the occupation of the suspects.

“The fact that they are priests is above and beyond shocking,” said Candice Parker. “I don’t understand this kind of behavior. They’re supposed to be leading good example and they’re doing exactly the opposite.”

The Archdiocese of Chicago released a statement on Tuesday acknowledging the arrest and announcing the steps it took in response.

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“Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, has removed Fr. Berrio from ministry and withdrawn his faculties to minister in the Archdiocese of Chicago, effective immediately,” the statement read. “The archdiocese will appoint an administrator for the Misión San Juan Diego as soon as possible.”

The archdiocese said charges against Cortez were relayed to his home diocese in Columbia, as well as confirmation that he “will not be granted additional faculties to minister in the Archdiocese of Chicago.”

For police, the suspects’ status in the Catholic church will have no bearing on the investigation.

“Their profession is irrelevant, in fact our trouble with this is that this is broad daylight, for anyone to see including children,” Rodrugez said. “There’s a time and a place for everything and this certainly was not the time and place.”

Both suspects are expected to face a misdemeanor charge of lewd and lascivious behavior. Cortez also faces an additional count of indecent exposure.

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They were booked into jail after their arrests and have since been released on bond.

“It is our responsibility to ensure those who serve our people are fit for ministry,” the archdiocese said. “We take this matter very seriously and will provide updates as they become available.”

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
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