VATICAN CITY — The Legion of Christ religious order, still reeling from 2009 revelations that its founder was a pedophile who fathered three children, was hit Tuesday by another scandal after its most well-known priest – a prominent American author, lecturer and television personality – admitted he had fathered a child several years ago.

The Rev. Thomas Williams said in a statement that he was “deeply sorry for this grave transgression” against his vows of celibacy and that he would be taking a year off to reflect on what he had done and his commitment to the priesthood.

The revelation raised questions about when Williams’ superiors knew of the existence of the child. A Legion spokesman said the order had decided not to disclose that information.

Williams’ admission was issued after The Associated Press last week presented the Legion with the allegation against Williams, which was lodged by a Spanish association of Legion victims. The association’s accusations, sent to the Legion and Vatican several weeks ago, also named other Legion priests accused of sexually abusing minors.

Williams, who was not accused of abuse, said that “a number of years ago,” he had a relationship with a woman and fathered her child. He didn’t identify the mother or say whether he was helping support the child.