Józef Wesolowski, a former Catholic archbishop and papal envoy who was under house arrest in Vatican City, was found dead Friday ahead of his trial on charges that he sexually abused children, possessed pornography, and offended Christian morality. An autopsy is planned, but Wesolowski, 67, is believed to have died of natural causes.
Wesolowski served as apostolic nuncio, the Vatican's chief diplomat, in the Dominican Republic from 2008 to 2013, and the case against him was considered a first for the Holy See's criminal justice system. From the International Business Times:
Wesolowski was arrested in Rome after being recalled from the Dominican Republic over media allegations he had hired "rent boys."
He was subsequently found guilty of sexual abuse and defrocked–the first top papal representative to receive such a sentence–in a canonical trial that paved the way for criminal charges. During the probe, Vatican detectives also found thousands of sexually explicit files on his office computer, with a second stash of material retrieved on a laptop he used during his trips abroad.
The criminal trial was delayed in mid-July when Wesolowski was taken to the hospital the day before the proceedings were scheduled to begin. He had been detained for nearly a year in the basement of a convent in the same building as the court and attended by Franciscan friars, rather than being held in the Holy See's prison, due to his health problems.