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Former Fargoan facing sex charges banned from priesthood

A priest who authorities believe fled to the Philippines to avoid sex crime charges has been banished from the priesthood, Fargo Roman Catholic Diocese officials say.

A priest who authorities believe fled to the Philippines to avoid sex crime charges has been banished from the priesthood, Fargo Roman Catholic Diocese officials say.

The Rev. Fernando Sayasaya is accused of having sexual contact with two boys beginning in 1995. He was charged in Cass County in December 2002 with gross sexual imposition, about four years after he returned to his native country.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Fargo diocese said the Vatican recently dismissed Sayasaya from his clerical state.

The Fargo diocese had relieved Sayasaya of his duties as a priest in August 1998, when the allegations involving juveniles first surfaced. Authorities have been working in the past year to return him to Fargo.

Sayasaya was an associate pastor at St. Mary's Church in Fargo and the Blessed Sacrament Church in West Fargo in the mid-1990s.

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Sayasaya, a native of the Philippines, attended college there before attending seminary in Rome, Italy.

He later moved to Fargo, serving as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament before his ordination in June 1995 at St. Mary's.

He served as an associate pastor at St. Mary's until July 1997, when he was transferred to Blessed Sacrament. Thirteen months later, church leaders were told about the sexual misconduct allegation.

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