Father Giangiacomo Ruggeri, a former girl-scout leader, was arrested after being seen by a lifeguard kissing the girl on a beach in July 2012, Il Messaggero reported.
The lifeguard called the police, who then captured the scene on camera. He was immediately suspended from the church and spent five months in jail.
But he can appeal his sentence, Omar Severi, the lawyer representing the girl’s family, told The Local. This means that, for now, Ruggeri is “free”, with the only restrictions on his life being that he can’t visit the town of Orciano, where the girl lives, or celebrate Mass in public.
He was also convicted in a fast-track trial, a process that gives the defendant an automatic two-thirds reduction of their sentence if found guilty.
After his few months prison, Ruggeri worked at a library in Perugia and is now a cook in a canteen at a political refugee centre in Rome.
“It was the first stage of the sentencing,” Severi told The Local, adding that Ruggeri will spend his time continuing with social work pending an appeal.
Severi added that the girl’s family will sue for damages in a civil court.
“They are asking for damages, including the cost of counselling and psychiatric help the family needs now and will need in the future.”
The family is also unhappy about the church’s silence over the matter, Severi told Il Messaggero.
Ruggeri reportedly told his lawyer, Gianluca Sposito, that he accepted the court’s decision.