A high-ranking priest with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston was arrested over the weekend for soliciting a prostitute after police observed him paying for sex in a graveyard.

Lowell police were in a local neighborhood on Sunday conducting surveillance for prostitution and drug use when they observed a known prostitute riding in a black Chevrolet Equinox with 62-year-old Monsignor Arthur M. Coyle, according to The Boston Globe. Police followed the car to a cemetery where Coyle admitted to hiring the woman for sex, but insisted that "they hadn’t done anything yet."

The 38-year-old woman told police that she had been paid $40 to perform sexual acts.

A Police report showed that Coyle was observed "well over a dozen different times" driving through areas frequented by prostitutes since last November. The report said that the priest would stop "every time he sees a single female or a known prostitute."

After being stopped in November, he told officers that he was "just driving around."

At an arraignment on Monday, Coyle pleaded not guilty to soliciting a prostitute. He was released on $500 bond.

A Monday statement from the archdiocese said that the priest had voluntarily taken a leave of absence.

"The Archdiocese of Boston today announced that Rev. Monsignor Arthur M. Coyle has taken a voluntary administrative leave from his assignment, as a result of his arrest on charges related to sexual misconduct involving an adult. Msgr. Coyle has been serving as Episcopal Vicar of the Merrimack Region for the Archdiocese since 2008," the statement said. "While on administrative leave, Msgr. Coyle is prohibited from performing any public ministry. These restrictions will remain in place pending the outcome of the case."

Coyle has served as an ordained priest since 1977 and was made an episcopal vicar in 2008. His current job requires him to oversee several parishes in the Merrimack Region.

Pope Benedict XVI awarded Coyle the title of prelate of honor last December.

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