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Fridley priest under investigation by Edina police takes leave

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A Fridley priest has taken a voluntary leave of absence while police reportedly investigate him for possible possession of child pornography.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis confirmed in a statement on its website Friday the priest, who is the pastor at the Church of St. William, will not be carrying out any of his regular duties while he is under investigation by Edina police.

The statement was issued after the Star Tribune reported police had been called by neighbors to his home at an Edina apartment complex four times in the last four years after they said they heard sounds of a child crying and "in distress."

The most recent call came on Feb. 8 but on every occasion no child was found in the apartment.

However, in an interview with police this week, the priest did say he had pornography on his computer, and a search warrant request was issued to find evidence of possession or distribution of child pornography, the newspaper notes.

The Pioneer Press reports this search was carried out on Thursday, though WCCO notes it's not been confirmed if anything was found.

The archdiocese said the priest "took a voluntary leave of absence pending the outcome of the investigation" during which he cannot "exercise priestly ministry."

"He is afforded the presumption of innocence," it added, saying the priest has been cooperative with the authorities and that it won't comment further in order to "protect the integrity of the investigation."

Although he has been named by the archdiocese and some news outlets, BringMeTheNews is not identifying the priest by name because he has not been charged with a crime.

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