A former Catholic priest plead guilty to obscenity charges Monday after desecrating his church altar with two dominatrices.
Travis Clark, formerly the pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Pearl River, Louisiana, plead guilty to a single count of felony obscenity during his arraignment Monday, NOLA.com reported. Clark and two women were charged with obscenity and institutional vandalism in 2020 after they were found engaging in sexual activity on the church altar. The two women plead guilty to the vandalism charges earlier this year.
The plea was part of a bargain filed under seal at the request of defense lawyers, the outlet reported. Judge Ellen Creel of Louisiana’s 22nd Judicial District sentenced Clark to a suspended prison term of three years; he will instead serve three years of supervised probation and pay a $1,000 fine. After the criminal charges have concluded, Clark will have to appear again in January for a civil trial, which seeks a permanent injunction against him and the two women to stop them from ever profiting off the crime. Clark’s attorneys said that he already paid $8,000 in restitution to the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
One of Clark’s defense lawyers argued that the defendant should not have to serve active probation. “In this situation it’s an incredibly specific set of facts and conditions that seem very unlikely to ever happen again,” the lawyer said, adding that the purpose of supervised probation is to prevent a repeat offense. The lawyers argued that the two women were more likely than Clark to repeat the same offense. But the judge ordered supervised probation for the two women co-defendants and said she was not inclined to treat one defendant differently than the others.
The two women plead guilty in July of this year to charges of misdemeanor institutional vandalism. They were each sentenced to two years of supervised probation.
The charges stemmed from 2020. On September 30, 2020, police were called to the Church after a passerby saw the two women dressed in corsets performing sex acts on a partially-naked Clark, while a cell phone and camera were recording them, NOLA.com reported at the time. Police arrived on the scene and arrested Clark and the two women, both professional dominatrices; they also seized sex toys, stage lights, the cell phone, and a tripod-mounted camera recording the affair.
The institutional vandalism charge relates to “knowingly vandalizing, defacing, or otherwise damaging property and causing damage valued at over $500 and under $50,000.” The obscenity charge relates to engaging in sex acts in any place “open to the public view.” The altar could reportedly be seen through the windows and glass doors of the church.
Clark was laicized by the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans one day after his arrest. Archbishop Gregory Aymond declared the altar desecrated, and ordered it to be removed, burned, and replaced.
“It is a very tough time right now to be a Catholic in the Archdiocese of New Orleans to say the least. Many people feel anger, betrayal, and disappointment,” Aymond said in a video statement to the faithful in October 2020. “I feel the same way … as do my brother priests. What has happened … is unacceptable, sinful, and cannot be tolerated. Let me be clear: [Clark was] removed from ministry immediately and will NEVER serve again in Catholic ministry.”
“His obscene behavior was deplorable,” Aymond added. “His desecration of the altar in Church was demonic. I am infuriated by his actions.”