I-Team Exclusive: Bishop accused of sex acts involving prostitutes, communion cup
7:54 PM, Aug 1, 2013
6:20 PM, Aug 2, 2013
TAMPA - The I-Team has uncovered new allegations against a local clergyman arrested for faking community service and work release hours.
In an exclusive interview, a former prostitute and confidential police informant is accusing Bishop Chuck Leigh of Apostolic Catholic Church of having sex with her in the church for money for years. She even alleges he used the communal sacramental wine chalice in their sex acts.
Leigh runs the Apostolic Catholic Church, a small church on N. Nebraska in Tampa. The church is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
Investigator Michael George first broke the story of Bishop Leigh's arrest on Wednesday. ABC Action News cameras were there when an undercover police operation was carried out to arrest Leigh on charges of falsifying an official document. He is accused of asking women for long, "groping hugs" in exchange for falsifying records to show they had completed court-ordered community service.
UPDATE: On Friday, the Department of Corrections confirmed to ABC Action News that they are reviewing all probation cases Bishop Leigh was involved with, as a result of his arrest.
But the confidential informant we spoke with says it went well beyond just hugs. We are not revealing her identity because she is under police protection as an informant.
The woman tells us she used to work as a prostitute and Bishop Leigh paid her for sex.
"Did it happen more than once?" asked investigator Michael George.
"I've been having sex acts with that man for, at the minimum, five years," she said.
She claims all of the incidents happened at church, sometimes while others were in the building.
"It was in his office, in the playroom, on the altar. It depends what mood he was in and who's around," she said.
She claims every time they had sex, he insisted on using the sacramental wine cup in their sex acts. She says it was the same cup used by churchgoers every Sunday.
On the church's website, Leigh writes about all the good work he and his congregation do for the poor. That's not the same man the confidential informant described.
"I'm glad he's being arrested. I'm glad he's being exposed," she said.
Bishop Leigh is currently behind bars on $4,500 bail, facing 12 counts of falsifying work release documents. He has not been charged with any sex crimes, but Tampa Police Department officials tell ABC Action News they're investigating the allegations and whether any other women are making the same claims.
"I'm not the only one," the informant said.
Investigators worry other women may be afraid to come forward. Many of the women who did community service at the church have long records, including prostitution. But authorities say they will listen to anyone who contacts them. Anyone with any information should contact the Tampa Police Department.
After Leigh's initial court appearance on Thursday, a woman who claimed to be Leigh's wife said he was a good man who was being set up.
Leigh was released from jail on a $4500 bond after 9 p.m. Thursday.