STOCKTON, Cal. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic church in northern California has a sexting scandal on its hands — and it involves the diocese's second-in-command.
Monsignor Larry McGovern, Vicar General of the diocese of Stockton and pastor of Presentation Church, is being accused of texting pictures of his genitalia to a parish maintenance man. After the picture was sent, Fr. McGovern and the man held a brief text conversation:
McGovern: "OOPS. Sorry about that. The curse of the internet. Shame on me. What is my penance?"
Maintenance Man: "I thought you were celibate, Monsignor."
McGovern: "But it is not me — celibate means not married — sometimes I get the wrong images."
John Manly, the maintenance man's lawyer, explains, "Monsignor McGovern either fired him because he reported him, or he fired him because he rebuffed whatever advance McGovern was making."
The inappropriate image was not Msgr. McGovern's only troubling behavior. The lawsuit charges that Fr. McGovern would often sunbathe in minimal clothing and flirt with the maintenance man, causing him great discomfort.
Manly explained that McGovern was often found "laying around in a speedo, making our client very uncomfortable."
"Our client's a married man," he commented. "This is his pastor."
As Vicar General, McGovern is responsible for overseeing other priests — including at least two clergymen accused of molesting children.
The diocese of Stockton responded to the lawsuit by stating, "In accordance with the canon law of the Church, Bishop Stephen Blaire has placed Monsignor McGovern on administrative leave pending a full and complete investigation."
Stockton police have referred the case to the district attorney's office, who is currently investigating whether to file charges against Fr. McGovern. The maintenance man, whose child will attend the Catholic school attached to McGovern's parish, wants to ensure McGovern is gone before the start of the school year.