A local priest is facing a federal sexual abuse charge for allegedly touching himself and propositioning a technician for sexual contact during a massage on a cruise ship over the summer.
The Rev. Amal Raj Lourdhu Samy, 37, who pastors St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Chastang, will be brought before a federal judge in Mobile this week to face a single charge of sexual abuse that stemmed from an incident reported on a Carnival Fantasy cruise line Aug. 21.
The allegations were recently made public as federal charges were filed against Samy in the Southern District of Alabama. According to a statement from FBI agent Paul Roche, who interviewed Samy back on land, he “attempted to touch a massage technician and asked [her] to touch [him].”
“A witness statement from [the masseuse] said Samy attempted to touch her several times, exposed himself by removing the covering sheet and asked her to touch his genitals. Samy also touched his genitals during the massage,” Roche’s handwritten statement reads. “Samy denied removing the covering sheet during his massage and stated he didn’t ask [the masseuse] to touch him sexually. Samy was evasive when answering questions and finally did admit to being nude under the sheet covering him.”
Calls made to St. Peter the Apostle Parish on Nov. 11 were not immediately returned, but WPMI NBC 15 has reported that Samy was still leading the congregation there as recently as Sunday. Since the incident in August, Samy has also continued to deny the allegations against him ahead of a court hearing Wednesday.
Part of the Archdiocese of Mobile, St. Peter the Apostle Parish is located in the northern part of Mobile County. Robert Herbst, editor of The Catholic Weekly and a spokesperson for the Archdiocese, said Samy was assigned as the Parish’s parochial administrator last June and he was appointed to serve as pastor Aug. 20 — the day before the alleged incident took place at sea.
Reached on Monday, Herbst told Lagniappe that officials were aware of the allegations.
“The Archdiocese of Mobile learned last week of the allegation against Father Amal Samy, H.G.N. Father Samy denies the allegation,” Herbst wrote via email. “The Archdiocese takes all such allegations seriously. It is our policy not to comment on pending legal matters.”
Normally, the conduct Samy is accused of wouldn’t rise to the level of a federal crime, but because it happened on an American-owned vessel in international waters, a special maritime and territorial jurisdiction was applied, and investigating the claim became the responsibility of the FBI.
According to Roche’s statement, Samy was charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 2244, which occurs when someone engages in a non-consensual sexual act in a special jurisdiction or federal prison. It comes with a possible sentence of up to three years, though that seems unlikely given Samy’s lack of criminal history.
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