A former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing dozens of victims in New Mexico over a 30-year-span is in federal custody after 26 years on the lam, the Department of Justice announced Friday.
Arthur Perrault, a former military chaplain, is under indictment for repeatedly molesting a boy at Kirkland Air Force Base and at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in the early 1990s.
Authorities say that boy —allegedly abused between 1991 and 1992 when he was less than 12 years of age — is one of several victims who had been victimized by Mr. Perrault, 80, dating back to the mid-1960s. He had fled the country in 1992 after multiple victims told Albuquerque Police Officers.
Mr. Perrault has not been formally defrocked by the Catholic. But records from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe describe him as “AWOL” having “absconded” after he fled New Mexico, according to local media reports.
Mr. Perrault had been found living in Morocco in 2016, teaching children at an American Language School, federal authorities said. Moroccan law enforcement authorities arrested him on Oct 12, 2017, on a provisional arrest warrant issued on a sealed indictment filed just a few weeks earlier. The FBI assumed custody of Mr. Perrault on Thursday and he is expected to make his initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge on Friday afternoon.
Mr. Perrault is charged with aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact. If convicted, he could face a lifetime prison sentence.
At a Friday morning news conference, U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson said the arrest is the result of a year-long FBI investigation.
“Although the indictment alleges that Perrault committed these acts many years ago, this indictment should make clear that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will pursue justice for victims despite the passage of time or the many years that this defendant sought to put between him and these alleged offenses,” Mr. Anderson said.
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