Priest Accused of Stealing $1 Million in Church Money, Spending It on Male Escorts


Weren’t we all just talking about how the BP spill totally helped the Catholic Church with its little “priest situation,” at least where the media was concerned? Got ’em out of the spotlight for a bit, took the heat off, what-have-you? Well, today we heard that we all might be just a little bit over the oil spill (right about when the tar balls hit Texas), and while we’re going to do our best not to let that happen, it is interesting that yet another priestly scandal should take this opportunity to emerge from the woodwork, much like a goose dunked in crude (ending bad metaphor-ish thing now).

Kevin Gray, a 64-year-old priest from the Hartford Catholic Diocese, turned himself in to Waterbury police this morning, reports the Hartford Courant, which details the story in all of its sad glory. He’s accused of stealing $1.3 million over seven years from his church, Sacred Heart, and spending the money on hotel rooms at the Waldorf, W, and Roosevelt; dining out at Tavern on the Green and Boston Legal Seafood; buying clothes from Barneys, Brooks Brothers, and Armani — and booking male escorts from Campus Escorts in New York. Gray also allegedly used a portion of the stolen funds to pay rent and Harvard tuition for a man he met in Central Park, as well as to give two men credit cards on his account.

Additionally, the oddly tech-savvy (sorry, we’re generalizing) Gray managed to extract $200,000 for his own use by signing an agreement with Wireless Capital Partners allowing them to use an antenna in the steeple of the church for wireless communications. The church found out about the agreement when the company called them, asking about extending their lease. (In brief, such an agreement is not exactly kosher.)

Why’d he do it? Gray felt the church owed him. He was unhappy with his assignments, including transfers that made commuting to see his dying mother difficult. He also told police that he is gay and has a problem with the church’s stance on homosexuality. Props for admitting it — albeit too little, too late…

Gray has been suspended, which seems like maybe the least of his worries as he is either being treated for colon cancer, as he told Weirui Zhong, 35, the Harvard student he’s now living with, or is claiming he’s being treated for colon cancer as a way to somehow get himself out of this mess. The church doesn’t know quite what to believe, but either way, they will not have the wool pulled over their eyes this time and are digging deep to find the truth. Or so they say.

What’s especially sad about all of this, of course, is that the poor parishioners of Sacred Heart seemed to really like Gray.

Now, back to BP….