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Pastor faces child sex charges in the Poconos

The Diocese of Scranton says Pastor Loughney has been removed from ministry while the investigation continues.

MONROE COUNTY, Pa. — Pastor Gregory Loughney had been a priest at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Paradise Township near Cresco for at least a decade.

He's now facing child sex charges after police say he made plans to meet up with who he thought were two teenage boys at this Wawa in Blakeslee on Friday night.

Instead, it was a self-proclaimed predator catcher from an online group called "570 Predator Catchers." 

Police later arrested the priest.

"He's also charged with a count of criminal use of a communication facility. Now the complainant has all the records or the communications back and forth, and our criminal investigators also have statements that they've taken," said Chief Chris Wagner, Pocono Mountain Regional Police.

According to court papers, explicit messages were exchanged on a social media app. Loughney also used the platform to send pictures of himself to the supposed teen.

After Loughney was confronted, he ended up calling the Monroe County Communication Center on himself, saying, "I made a mistake, and I need to report myself," and police were already on the way.

"Once our officers go there, the defendant Mr. Loughney confessed to the officer after Miranda Rights were given and admitted that he had made some mistakes. Our officer quickly contacted our criminal investigators and the district attorney's office," said Wagner.

Newswatch 16 stopped by the address given on court paperwork for Pastor Loughney; however, no one was at the residence. 

We also stopped here at the Parish to try to get further comment, but parish directors directed us to the Diocese of Scranton. 

The Diocese of Scranton says Pastor Loughney has been removed from ministry while the investigation continues.

Parishioners learned about the charges during Sunday services. 

"It is really sad to hear it, but we are all human, and as a Christian, we always say, you know, we get tempted by the devil," said Estelle Yessoh, Pocono Farms.