Ex-Catholic priest caught making sex tape on Pearl River church altar pleads guilty to felony obscenity

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 12:03 AM CST
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COVINGTON, La. (WVUE) - The former Catholic priest caught recording a sex tape with two dominatrices on the altar of his Pearl River church two years ago pleaded guilty Monday (Nov. 21) to a felony count of obscenity as part of a plea bargain, his attorney said.

Travis Clark, 39, entered the plea before 22nd Judicial District Judge Ellen Creel, and received a suspended three-year prison sentence, three years of supervised probation and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

Defense attorney Michael Kennedy, who represented Clark with co-counsel Marc Hoerner, said Clark already had paid $8,000 in restitution to the Archdiocese of New Orleans, after a furious Archbishop Gregory Aymond declared the altar desecrated and ordered it burned and replaced after the October 2020 incident.

Kennedy said he was grateful the judge suspended Clark’s sentence, but questioned the fairness of the state’s insistence that his client plead guilty to a felony. The female performers involved in the incident -- 30-year-old Melissa Cheng of Alpharetta, Ga., and 43-year-old Mindy Dixon of Kent, Wash. -- pleaded guilty in July to only misdemeanor counts of institutional vandalism. They also were spared prison time and were sentenced to just two years’ probation each.

“I believe my client is far less likely to find himself in a similar situation ever again,” Kennedy said. “Wherever life takes Mr. Clark from here, I hope it finds him well and able to put this fully behind him.”

Clark was defrocked after an arrest that shocked his congregation, the archdiocese and the Pearl River community.

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According to court documents filed by Pearl River police, a passerby who noticed lights on late on Oct. 1 inside the Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church called authorities. The witness said the women and Travis could be seen through the church’s windows and glass doors engaged in sexual acts on the church altar, in front of a tripod-mounted camera.

An arrest warrant affidavit said police arrested the priest, two women dressed in corsets and high heels, and confiscated sex toys, portable stage lights and two recording devices.

Aymond removed Clark from Catholic ministry the day after his arrest, expressing then his revulsion and disgust.

“His obscene behavior was deplorable. His desecration of the altar in the church was demonic,” Aymond said. “And I am infuriated by his actions.”

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