Priest Arrested: Father Bernard Chojnacki accused of exposing himself to undercover police officer

9:32 AM, Jun 9, 2011   |    comments
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Venice, FL -- A Port Charlotte Priest is in trouble with the law after officials say he exposed himself to an undercover detective.

36-year old Father Bernard Chojnacki was arrested Tuesday afternoon and been charged with exposure of sexual organs and battery.

Authorities say Chojnacki was walking along a wooded trail near Caspersen Beach when he inappropriately grabbed an undercover officer. They say Chojnacki then exposed himself and asked if he could perform a sexual act.

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The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office was conducting an undercover investigation into indecent activities on Caspersen Beach when Chojnacki was arrested.

News of Chojnacki's arrest stunned members of the St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte where he served as Parochial Vicar since 2009.

"It's more shocking because I went through my classes with him," said Sara Ramirez.

"He seemed very, very in it, very sweet, very normal; never expected something like that."

The Diocese of Venice issued a statement Wednesday calling the charges against Chojnacki "unsettling." The Diocese also said the priest had been placed on administrative leave.

Below is the complete statement by the Diocese.

The Diocese of Venice was made aware this morning of the charges brought against Father Bernard Chojnacki.

Upon hearing of the charges against Father Chojnacki, the Diocese immediate placed him on administrative leave until the situation comes to some sort of resolution.

The charges against Father Chojnacki are unsettling. This is a sad time for the both the Parish and the Diocese, and matters of this nature are taken very seriously.

Father Chojnacki's principal assignment was as Parochial Vicar to St. Charles Borromeo Parish, and as such had no official teaching assignment with the Parish's school.

Preston Rudie

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