The FBI says a former Catholic priest who fled the country in 1992 after being accused of child sexual abuse has been extradited from Morocco to face criminal charges in New Mexico.
Arthur Perrault appeared in federal court in Albuquerque Friday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to seven counts of abuse.
John Anderson, the United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, announced the charges Friday morning. "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 [miles] that this Defendant sought to put between him and these alleged offenses," he said.
The charges involve just one victim who says Perrault abused him, when he was under the age of 12, at Santa Fe National Cemetery and Kirtland Air Force Base, places that fall under federal jurisdiction.
Perrault first came to New Mexico in the mid-1960s when he was sent to the Servants of the Paraclete, a treatment center for problem priests in Jemez Springs.
According to Church documents unsealed by an Albuquerque judge in September 2017, Perrault worked in various New Mexico parishes and was later accused of abusing dozens of children while assigned to St. Pius X High School, Queen of Heaven parish, Our Lady of Guadelupe parish and Our Lady of Assumption parish, among other places. He disappeared from the U.S. in 1992.
This is the first time Perrault will face criminal charges.
"This is a great day for survivors of clergy abuse everywhere," said a statement from Brad D. Hall, an attorney who has represented over a hundred victims of clergy sex abuse, including victims of abuse by Perrault.
If convicted of aggravated sexual abuse, 80-year-old Perrault could face up to life in prison.
People who have additional information about Perrault can contact the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI. Information about the indictment and federal prosecution is posted here.
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