Florence

Former priest probed in sex slavery cult

'Live another form of Christianity' Father Cioni told acolytes

Former priest probed in sex slavery cult

Florence, August 23 - Four people, including a 68-year-old former priest, were placed under investigation Friday for sex slavery in Tuscany. The probe examined alleged mistreatment of nine women and a man in a cult based in Montecchio di Cortona, in the province of Arezzo, as well as misappropriation of funds, according to newspaper reports. The group was allegedly forced to submit to sexual and psychological violence, according to Florence investigators. The cult leader is a former priest called Mauro Cioni, who left the Catholic clergy in 1985. Towards the end of the 1980s he convinced a large group of people to follow his teachings and "live another form of Christianity" he said would release them from evil, provided they cut off all family, social and work ties, submitted themselves to his sex-related orders and handed over their financial holdings, police and prosecutors said. Otherwise, he told them they would have "suffered for the rest of their lives" and would have remained "damned for all eternity". Prosecutors also accuse former cult member Carlo Carli of styling his own cult after Cioni's. Two other cult members, Franco Bigazzi, 56, and Giorgio Bigozzi, 62, face fraud charges.

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