Fugitive Priest Gets 30 Years In Sex Abuse Case, 5 Dead And 6 Injured In Albuquerque Shootings

Sep 13, 2019

Fugitive Priest Sentenced To 30 Years In Sex Abuse CaseAssociated Press

A former Roman Catholic priest who authorities say fled the country in the early 1990s as he faced sex abuse allegations in New Mexico has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after being returned to the U.S.

A judge sentenced 81-year-old Arthur Perrault on Friday in Santa Fe, saying it was the worst case of child sex abuse she had handled over the course of 26 years.

Prosecutors had requested a maximum of more than 30 years in prison for Perrault after several men testified that they had been abused by him as children.

The abuse counts in an indictment filed against Perrault stem from the treatment of one boy at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque and at Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Perrault, a former pastor at an Albuquerque parish and a chaplain at the base, pleaded not guilty after he was returned to the U.S. from Morocco in 2017.

His defense team plans an appeal.

Fugitive Priest Faces Sentencing In US Sex Abuse Case - By Mary Hudetz Associated Press

A former Roman Catholic priest found guilty of aggravated sexual abuse in New Mexico is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in Santa Fe.

Federal prosecutors are requesting a sentence of more than 30 years in prison for Arthur Perrault, once a pastor at an Albuquerque parish and a chaplain at Kirtland Air Force Base. The 81-year-old maintained his innocence throughout his trial in April.

A jury found him guilty of sexually abusing an altar boy at the base in Albuquerque and a veterans' cemetery in Santa Fe. Both sites are within federal jurisdiction.

He vanished from New Mexico in 1992 as he faced accusations that he had sexually assaulted children. He was captured in Morocco and returned to the United States in 2017.

Agreement Means Feds To Decide On Prairie Bird DesignationAssociated Press

A federal judge has approved an agreement that will require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make a recommendation by May 2021 whether the lesser prairie chicken should be federally protected as a threatened or endangered species.

The agreement was reached Thursday between the federal agency and three conservations groups: the Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians.

The groups sued the federal government in June to force it to make a designation for the lesser prairie chicken and its habitats.

Once a designation is proposed, there will then be a public comment period followed by a final determination made later by Fish and Wildlife. The agency also could decide that no federal protections be provided for the bird.

It was listed as threatened in 2014 but a federal court overturned the designation.

The grouse roams parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, but the groups said fewer than 38,000 remain.

Arizona Voters Who Don't Sign Some Ballots Will Get 2nd ShotAssociated Press

Arizona voters who forget to sign the envelope on their early ballots will have a chance after Election Day to fix their mistake.

The Arizona Republic reports the state Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has agreed to a new policy to require officials to notify voters about missing signatures on early ballots. The new policy is part of a settlement in a voting rights lawsuit filed by the Navajo Nation last year.

According to the changes, state election officials will give voters five business days after an election to remedy the problem.

The Navajo Nation filed a federal lawsuit last year that sought emergency relief for more than 100 tribal members who either weren't able to address mismatched signatures or didn't know to sign the ballot envelope.

5 People Die In Shootings In Albuquerque - Associated Press

Authorities in Albuquerque scrambled Friday to piece together what sparked separate shootings that killed five people and wounded six others, as the mayor acknowledged that elected leaders and residents were tired of the violence that has plagued some parts of the city.

There were no immediate arrests in Thursday night's shootings. Investigators didn't immediately determine whether there was any connection between the shootings that Deputy Police Chief Harold Medina called "senseless acts" during a news conference early Friday.

Mayor Tim Keller called the shootings “appalling” and said there is much more work to do to tackle crime in the city.

The shootings come as Albuquerque, with a population over 500,000, has struggled to address high crime rates. The city has among some of the highest rates for auto theft and burglary in the nation. Officials have said those numbers improved over the first six months of the year as more officers have been hired and patrols are focusing on areas known as trouble spots.

Statistics released by the mayor this summer also show decreases in the number of certain violent offenses, including robberies, aggravated assaults and rapes. There were 32 homicides reported in the first six months of the year and 94 shootings in which people were injured, both less than the same period in 2018.

The latest shootings happened in different parts of the city over a span of about 90 minutes.

Officials Target New Mexico Business Over Unpaid Wages - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

State and local labor officials are targeting a New Mexico restaurant over allegations that it withheld wages from workers.

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, District Attorney Raul Torrez and the city of Albuquerque are suing Hacienda Del Rio and its owners, saying the business violated state wage statutes and city ordinances.

New Mexico Labor Secretary Bill McCamley says his agency has been working to educate employers about wage laws but some businesses have neglected to settle claims or respond to investigative inquiries related to underpayment or nonpayment of wages.

The case against Hacienda Del Rio stems from dozens of complaints made over the past two years. In a previous lawsuit, a district judge found the business was liable for thousands of dollars in back wages owed to four former workers.

Agency Backs Black Student's Complaint VS. Convenience Store - Associated Press

A New Mexico agency says there is probable cause that a Santa Fe convenience store clerk discriminated against a black customer last year.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico announced this week the New Mexico Human Rights Bureau's ruling that now allows Jordan McDowell to pursue legal action.

In December, the ACLU of New Mexico filed a complaint in New Mexico on behalf of McDowell who says a convenience store employee called police on him for "being arrogant because he's black."

According to the complaint, McDowell, a pre-med student at Xavier University in New Orleans, drew attention from an employee at the Allsup's Convenience Store. The complaint says the employee felt McDowell was being "suspicious and sneaky."

The Clovis, New Mexico-based Allsup's did not immediately return phone messages.

New Mexico Preps For Trump After Past Rallies Sparked Unrest - By Russell Contreras And Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

New Mexico law enforcement agencies are prepping for an upcoming President Donald Trump rally three years after previous ones sparked turmoil in Albuquerque.

Police say they will be prepared Monday for the Trump event in Rio Rancho, a town northwest of Albuquerque, as protesters vow to step up acts of civil disobedience and demonstrations.

Police say several law enforcement agencies will help with security at the Santa Ana Star Center.

Demonstrators who participated in previous New Mexico Trump protests say they have discussed blocking traffic and lying down on highways to halt the scheduled appearance. Activist Javier Benavidez says he's insulted that Trump is visiting the state with the highest percentage of Hispanics on Sept. 16 — Mexican Independence Day.

Trump is making his first visit to New Mexico as president.

New Mexico County Supports Protecting Portions Of Gila River - Associated Press

The Grant County Commission is joining the call to protect portions of the Gila and San Francisco rivers.

Commissioners voted Thursday in favor a resolution supporting a possible legislative effort to designate under federal law hundreds of miles of the rivers and their tributaries as "wild and scenic."

Supporters contend such a designation would sustain rural economies that depend on the anglers, hunters and other outdoor recreationists who visit southwestern New Mexico.

They say the designation could spur more visits, noting that the outdoor recreation industry generates an estimated $10 billion annually in consumer spending in addition to wages and tax revenues.

Supporters are asking members of New Mexico's congressional delegation to introduce legislation to designate the rivers under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

$84M Contract Awarded For Northwestern New Mexico Pipeline - Associated Press

The U.S. Interior Department has awarded a nearly $84 million contract for a water pipeline in northwestern New Mexico.

The pipeline is part of the larger Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project that's been in the works for several years. It will deliver San Juan River water to more than 40 Navajo Nation communities, the Jicarilla Apache Reservation and the city of Gallup.

The latest contract awarded to a Roanoke, Texas, company includes 30 miles of pipeline between the Navajo communities of Little Water and Naschitti. The work is scheduled to begin in January.

The overall project includes 280 miles of pipeline, water treatment and pumping plants, and storage tanks.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Thursday that most of the work on the main line is either complete or under construction.

New Mexico Team To Study Uses For Oil Industry's Waste Water - Associated Press

State environmental regulators are teaming up with New Mexico State University to study how waste water from the booming oil and gas industry can be treated and reused.

State officials announced the formation of a new consortium Thursday. The group is charged with filling in scientific gaps and researching technological solutions for dealing with what's known in the oilfield as produced water.

Some oil companies already have been reusing the waste water in their operations to cut down on fresh water use.

Officials are looking to learn more to establish regulations and policies for the treatment and potential reuse of the water beyond the oilfield.

The memorandum of understanding between the state Environment Department and New Mexico State is aimed at spurring economic investment opportunities.

The Environment Department also is planning public meetings on the topic this fall.

Skeletal Remains In Arizona ID'd As Missing New Mexico Woman - Associated Press

Authorities say skeletal remains found last year in Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains have been identified as a New Mexico woman missing since 2015.

Cochise County Sheriff's officials say bone fragments and a braid of hair located in August 2018 were identified by DNA as being from 44-year-old Lydia "Janet" Castrejon.

She was reported missing in June 2015 while on a family camping trip.

Castrejon was disabled and suffered from poor eyesight and a traumatic brain injury that resulted in a diminished mental capacity.

She was last seen outside a restroom in Rustler Park as her mother was inside using the facilities.

Authorities searched for months with no success.

Forest Service employees found the bone fragments and hair and the items were sent to Tucson and Texas for testing to determine identification.