Update: This article has been updated to reflect the date of Thomson's next court date.
FAIRBANKS—A University of Alaska Fairbanks parish priest has been arrested on charges of driving under the influence and misdemeanor drugs and weapons offenses.
Father Sean P. Thomson, 52, was stopped Monday at 228 Mile Parks Highway near McKinley Village, according to a criminal complaint filed against him Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty at an initial court hearing and has been released on $5,000 bail. Thomson remains a priest for the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks but has been placed on administrative leave, said Ronnie Rosenberg, legal coordinator and the director of human resources for the diocese.
Thomson was driving a blue 2002 GMC Sierra pickup truck that was weaving, crossing the center line and speeding 79 mph in a 65 zone, trooper Christopher Bitz wrote in the criminal complaint. Bitz said Thomson seemed disoriented and produced a receipt when asked for his vehicle registration. Asked if he had any weapons, Thomson mentioned a .357 in the back seat but neglected to mention a 9mm pistol in his back pocket, Bitz said. Thomson had a bag with a small quantity of marijuana in the pocket of his hoodie sweatshirt, Bitz said.
Thomson registered a breath-alcohol content of 0.247 on a handheld preliminary breath alcohol test machine. That figure is three times the 0.08 level that is one legal standard for intoxication. At the Healy trooper post Thomson refused to take a more-accurate Datamaster test because "(he) said he was drunk and did not feel the test was necessary," Bitz said.
Thomson was charged with DUI, refusal to take to a chemical alcohol test, drugs misconduct and two counts of weapons misconduct for both possessing a firearm while intoxicated and failing to immediately inform troopers he was carrying a firearm.
The Diocese of Fairbanks plans to fill in at the university parish with other priests and lay staff during Thomson's suspension. There may be changes to the service schedule, but that usually happens anyway at the beginning of the summer, Rosenberg said.
Thomson's next court date is Friday morning at the Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.