Tampa hugging clergyman's bond set - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa hugging clergyman's bond set

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

A Hillsborough County judge set a bond at a first appearance hearing Thursday morning for a Tampa church leader under arrest for exchanging community service hours for hugs, police said. 

Charles Leigh, 64, is the head of the Apostolic Catholic Church at 7813 North Nebraska Ave. Parishioners know him as Bishop Chuck.

A Hillsborough County judge denied Leigh's bond reduction request. His bond stands at $4500 for 12 misdemeanor counts.

"He is a good, kind man with a gentle heart," said a woman identifying herself as Leigh's wife. "He's been falsely accused."

Tampa Police received a tip in June that Leigh was falsifying probation documents to say defendants completed community service hours, they were not actually doing, in exchange for hugs.

They say the hugs more like intimate groping.

"This is a seasoned police officer who was hugged in such a way, very invasively, it made her incredibly uncomfortable. And it was in back of the church office" said TPD Corporal Felicia Pecora.

Detectives say Leigh falsified an undercover detective's probation documents twice. They say he gave the officer credit for 50 hours of community service in exchange for seven intimate hugs.

On June 19th, officials say Leigh falsified the detective's probation documents, giving her credit for 17 community service hours in exchange for four hugs.

On Wednesday, police say Leigh falsified the officer's documents a second time. That time he gave her credit for an additional 33 community service hours for 3 groping hugs.

As he was being led to jail he denied everything.

"Did nothing wrong here, just currently I feel like this is a political issue" said Leigh. 

Leigh has been charged with six counts of Falsifying public or court records and making false statements.

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