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Catholic priest sought in attempted murder

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Roman Catholic priest wanted in a beating attack on a female employee at his southern Nevada church is expected to be charged with attempted murder, police said.

An arrest warrant was being prepared Monday for the Rev. George Chaanine, 52, that will also charge him with kidnapping and battery with intent to commit sex assault, police Lt. John Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw, who commands the Las Vegas police sex crimes unit, said Monday that the encounter "had sexual connotations," but that the woman was not sexually assaulted in the encounter in a church office.

It was not clear whether Chaanine, who is on the run, had a lawyer.

Police were summoned a little before 4:30 p.m. Friday after the woman sought aid. Chaanine was gone when police arrived.

The woman, an adult whose name and age were withheld by police, was treated late Friday at University Medical Center in Las Vegas and released after the attack.

Bradshaw said she was beaten with a blunt object, which he said police confiscated from the office.

On Sunday, Chaanine was placed on administrative leave from his position as pastor of Our Lady of Las Vegas Church, meaning he cannot act in any capacity as a priest, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Las Vegas said.

On Monday, a publicist for the diocese refused to comment beyond Sunday's news of Chaanine's suspension.