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US Priest Accused of Sex Abuse Arrested in Philippines
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US Priest Accused of Sex Abuse Arrested in Philippines

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Bureau of Immigration (Philippines)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – December 7, 2018

Philippine immigration authorities have arrested an American Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting altar boys in a church in Naval in the island province of Biliran, in a case one official described as "shocking and appalling." 

Hendricks, 77, faces charges of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, a federal crime that could result in up to 30 years in prison. The case is being run by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Ohio — where Hendricks was previously based.

An Ohio court had issued a warrant for the arrest of 77-year-old Hendricks, who has been living in the Philippines for 37 years, Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said Thursday, adding that the U.S. criminal case stemmed from complaints from Filipino minors who were allegedly victimized in the Philippines.

So far, the authorities have identified 10 victims — including four who came forward at a town hall meeting held in the Philippines. One victim told agents the priest sexually abused him numerous times, starting in 2012, when he was around 12. Another said he was first abused when he was seven.

Authorities believe Hendricks lived with multiple boys and molested victims both alone and with others. Victims told investigators that Hendricks would kiss them, touch their genitals and initiate oral and anal sex. One reported more than 40 sexual encounters with the local parish priest.

According to Sandoval, "The victims were in his house and the abuses were committed while he was taking a bath with each of them,"

All of the accounts had similarities, said U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman, with the boys saying they met Hendricks through his official work in the church; some had inquired about becoming altar boys.

The victims were reportedly warned they would be locked up in jail if they told anyone about the abuses.

There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. Embassy, Philippine Catholic Church officials or Hendricks, who was flown to Manila and detained in an immigration cell.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly lashed out at the dominant Catholic Church and its priests over such abuses, saying he himself along with other students were sexually molested by an American priest in their high school days.

In separate speeches Wednesday, the volatile leader claimed almost 90% of Catholic priests were homosexual and also admonished Catholics to "kill your bishops, they are useless fools. All they do is criticize."

"I'm telling you, the most hypocritical institution in the entire Philippines is the Catholic church and the pope knows that," Duterte said.

The string of child sex abuse scandals that — spanning decades, continents and thousands of victims — has fundamentally altered how the world views the Catholic Church and priests like Hendricks in particular. With every crisis, Christians had allowed themselves to hope that now, perhaps, it would be over, only to see another year like this one, when every day seems to bring news of sex crimes and cover-ups in the church.

A grand jury report in Pennsylvania accused more than 300 priests of abusing about 1,000 children, spurring federal authorities to investigate. Two U.S. cardinals have been disgraced. And approval ratings for Pope Francis, who once was the world’s most popular leader, have plummeted among Americans. But despite the global nature of the problem, the Holy See often tried not to notice such inconvenient trends among clerics, calling such situations "sins" and "misdeeds" of individual clergy.

Author: USA Really