Once a fugitive, former New Mexico priest convicted of sex abuse

Once a fugitive, former New Mexico priest convicted of sex abuse

Credit: sergign/Shutterstock.
Credit: sergign/Shutterstock.

.- A federal jury found a former priest of New Mexico guilty on multiple charges of sexual abuse involving minors, Reuters reported.

Arthur Perrault, who was a priest in Albuquerque for 26 years, was found guilty of six counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact with a minor after an 8-day federal trial.

Prosecutors said Perrault was found guilty of “repeatedly abusing” a minor between the years of 1991 and 1992 while he was serving as military chaplain at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Reuters reported.

Perrault served in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe from 1973 to 1992. Prior to that, Perrault had spent time at a treatment center in New Mexico in 1965 for sexually abusive priests, after being accused of molesting minors as a priest in Connecticut. In 1966 he was released after a psychologist recommended him for a teaching position at St. Pius X High School.

He then became a “serial child molester who abused numerous victims,” according to a motion filed last September with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico. The Albuquerque Journal reported at the time that nearly 40 people have come forward, claiming to be victims of Perrault, as well as the mother of one young man who claimed her son committed suicide following abuse from Perrault.

Perrault fled the United States in 1992 to Morocco, just days before an attorney filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Albuquerque for the abuse.

His whereabouts were unknown until 2016, when he was found working at a Morocco English-language school for children, a position from which he was then fired.

Perrault was taken into the custody of Moroccan authorities after the U.S. Department of Justice filed an indictment against him on Sept. 21, 2017. He was extradited back to New Mexico to face the charges against him in September 2018, to which he pled not guilty.

Perrault’s sentencing date has not yet been set, but Reuters reported that he faces maximum life imprisonment for the aggravated sexual charges, and a maximum of 10 years imprisonment for the charge of abusive sexual contact.

Tags: Catholic News, Clerical sex abuse