Argentine pedophile priest begins 15-year jail sentence

A well-known Argentine priest began a 15-year prison sentence for pedophilia Monday, four years after he was convicted.

A court ordered the immediate arrest of Julio Cesar Grassi, 57, who was on provisional release after being convicted in 2009.

The arrest came after the supreme court of Buenos Aires province upheld his conviction.

Grassi was found guilty of abusing a 15-year-old boy who had been living at the Felices los Ninos (Happy Children) foundation in Hurlingham, 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Buenos Aires.

The victim, then 19, first publicly recounted the abuse on television in October 2002.

Two other victims later came forward with their own stories of abuse by the priest.

Grassi, who was well connected politically in the 1990s, gained media exposure soliciting donations from actors, newscasters and politicians for the foundation, which cared for some 6,000 children.

The bishop of Moron Monday expressed "deep concern" over the case, calling it "complex and painful." The statement also noted the priest could still appeal to the national supreme court.

Pope Francis, who has been criticized for not acting more decisively against pedophilia when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, was at the helm of the church there when Grassi was convicted in 2009.

Argentina's population of 40.7 million is 69 percent Catholic, according to data from the Latin American Episcopal Council.