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Priest faces sex crime charges in Monroe County

Churchgoers had just come out of Sunday morning mass where they learned their Pastor Gregory Loughney had been arrested.

CRESCO, Pa. — "These things are unpredictable; you never know what it happens," said Estelle Yessoh, Pocono Farms.

Churchgoers had just come out of Sunday morning mass, where they learned their pastor had been arrested.

"I hope it's not true because nothing like that should be happening," said Marie Herd of Tobyhanna.

Arrest papers show that Pastor Gregory Loughney thought he had been communicating online with a 15-year-old boy that he met on Tinder. He allegedly arranged to meet with the teen at a business Friday night. That's where he was arrested.

He is charged with attempted statutory sexual assault, corruption of minors, and related counts.

"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 Yessoh.

At Most Holy Trinity Parish, parishioners say the priest has been a part of their church family for years.

"The parish is really supportive to the family, and we also have to say the prayer for the priest because no matter what, it's still a human being that went through things," Yessoh said.

"Father Gregory, he's very, very nice. I don't know what's going on, what happened," added Herd.

A couple of mothers who say they've been going to the church for years say this priest is a conscientious and loving person who built their sons' faith up from a young age.

In a statement, the Diocese said, in part:

"Under its longstanding zero-tolerance policy, the Diocese of Scranton immediately removed Father Loughney from active ministry pending the outcome of the investigation."

And at Sunday mass, members say the priest read that statement while delivering the day's sermon.

"That transparency, I would say, give us some type of safe feeling, that nothing is hidden from us and that we are protected no matter what," Yessoh said.

Police have not yet released the details of the charges against Father Loughney.

"Whatever it is, it's in the hand of God; God will be watching everything, will help everybody," Herd said.

Loughney is due back in court on November 4. 

The Diocese of Scranton has removed Father Loughney from active ministry, pending the outcome of the investigation.

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