Las Vegas Diocese Suspends Priest Wanted in Connection With Church Assault

A Las Vegas church suspended a Catholic priest Sunday as police continued their search for the clergyman, who allegedly sexually assaulted and struck a woman at the church.

The Diocese of Las Vegas placed Our Lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church priest George Chaanine on administrative leave as police investigated a Friday evening assault at the church, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Sunday.

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Authorities said they were called to the church by someone who heard a woman in the church cry for help.

Officers found a church employee who said she had been assaulted and hit in the head with an object by a priest. Investigators consider Chaanine a person of interest, police spokesman Bill Cassell said.

"We want to talk with him, to hear his side of the story," Ted Moody, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Department's Investigative Services Division, told the newspaper on Saturday.

Police said Chaanine owns a gun and may be armed and dangerous, the paper reported.

Police closed the grounds of the church, located about four miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, for about an hour while they searched for Chaanine.

They believe the priest is driving a cream-colored Buick LeSabre.

The victim was treated at University Medical Center and released.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.