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Julio Cesar Grassi Banned From Priesthood And Finally Begins Prison Sentence

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In this June 10, 2009 file photo, Argentine Catholic priest Julio Grassi talks to reporters as he leaves a courthouse after being found guilty of sexual abuse in Buenos Aires, Argentina. | AP

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest who is serving a 15-year jail sentence in Argentina for sexually abusing a boy has been banned from the priesthood.

The bishopric of Moron in western Buenos Aires banned Father Julio Cesar Grassi from priestly duties Tuesday.

The priest well-known for persuading Argentine celebrities to donate to the Happy Children Foundation began serving his sentence a day earlier.

Grassi had earlier remained free despite charges of abusing the teenager in 1996.

He continued living across the street from the orphanage after his 2009 conviction while he appealed. Grassi was taken into custody Monday after the top provincial court upheld his sentence.

The 57-year-old priest says he's innocent. He will now make his final appeal to Argentina's Supreme Court from prison.

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