A Sicilian priest who promised to exorcise women and girls of "the demon of lust" has been arrested for sexual abuse.
Salvatore Anello, of the Capuchin order,is accused of carrying out the abuse under the guise of spiritual "healing", according to the Local Italy.
Anello was arrested along with Italian army soldier Salvatore Muratore. Both were based in Palermo.
Both Anello and Muratore reportedly told victims they were liberating them from demonic possession, while Muratore told prosecutor Giorgia Righi that they were trying to rid the victims of lust, according to La Stampa.
Palermo Today claimed the men convinced women and children they were possessed by evil spirits and then carried out a "healing prayer" in their homes. However the practice allegedly involved "repeatedly touching their genitals."
Anello was arrested on Friday morning and is being held in police custody. The arrest follows a six-month long investigation into Muratore, who is also a member of a local prayer group.
It is thought that Muratore abused at least one girl and four women. Anello has been charged with abusing three minors and two women.
The army has said Muatore will be suspended immediatley and co-operate with investigations.