Sunday, 26 May, 2019

Ohio priest arrested in Philippines, accused of sexually abusing boys

Philippines to deport American Catholic priest wanted for sex crimes Ohio priest arrested in Philippines, accused of sexually abusing boys
Deanna Wagner | 09 December, 2018, 05:46

The Rev. Kenneth Hendricks is under arrest in the Philippines, after USA and Filipino officials learned of allegations of sexual abuse against the Catholic priest - including accounts that he "had a number of minor boys residing with him", prosecutors say.

The move followed a request by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after Hendricks was indicted for engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, said Bobby Raquepo, who heads the immigration bureau's fugitive search unit. Now the issue of his deportation back to the USA, where it will be judged.

Kenneth Bernard Hendricks, 77, was taken into custody Wednesday on the central island of Biliran after serving as a priest for 37 years in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

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.

The American priest allegedly molested a number of boys living in his residence. One reported more than 40 sexual encounters with the local parish priest.

U.S. authorities provided information about the alleged sexual assaults to the Philippine Government, she said. The priest allegedly warned the victims that if they told anyone they would all go to prison.

So far, the authorities have identified 10 victims - including four who came forward at a town hall meeting held in the Philippines. Of the five interviewed, the youngest was 7 years old at the start of the alleged abuse.

The 77-year-old American Catholic priest wanted by United States authorities for sexually molesting several boys in Biliran province is now detained at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in Bicutan, Taguig City.

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The U.S. Embassy, which did not immediately react to the news of the arrest, may revoke Hendricks' passport in a bid to help Philippine authorities deport him.

"This is our priority, to kick out people like this because they are preying on our children", she told AFP.

Local police said Hendricks was also the subject of a separate investigation by Philippine authorities after two boys filed a complaint against him.

He added there's reason to believe others have been abused by Hendricks, whose travel records show he returns to the USA for several months each year. Glassman said Hendricks has a residence in the Cincinnati area.

Steve Francis, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in MI and OH, pleaded with other victims to come forward.

He said the allegations against a man he described as "in one of the highest positions of public trust" were very disturbing.

The Philippines is Asia's biggest Catholic country and has also seen sexual abuse charges levelled against its clergy.