An Amer­i­can priest is ac­cused of mo­lest­ing boys in the Philip­pines. His US his­tory is un­der scru­tiny

Fiji Sun - - Asia News - Manila:

An Amer­i­can Catholic priest has been ar­rested in the Philip­pines -- and charged in US fed­eral court -- on sus­pi­cion of sex­u­ally abus­ing boys in the South­east Asian coun­try where he’s lived for decades, au­thor­i­ties in both na­tions an­nounced. The Rev Ken­neth Bernard Pius Hen­dricks, 77, orig­i­nally from Cincin­nati, was ar­rested Wed­nes­day in the Philip­pine city of Naval af­ter sev­eral al­leged vic­tims came for­ward to Philip­pine and US in­ves­ti­ga­tors last month, au­thor­i­ties said.

Though court doc­u­ments filed in late Novem­ber cite five ac­cusers, a to­tal of 10 ac­cusers have now come for­ward in the Philip­pines, al­leg­ing Hen­dricks sex­u­ally abused them when they were boys, US Home­land Se­cu­rity In­ves­ti­ga­tions Spe­cial Agent Steve Fran­cis said on Thurs­day in Cincin­nati. Be­cause Hen­dricks also spends parts of the year in the United States, in­ves­ti­ga­tors are ask­ing the pub­lic in both coun­tries for in­for­ma­tion about the priest.

“It’s hor­ri­fy­ing ... abu­sive con­duct,” US at­tor­ney Ben­jamin Glass­man said Thurs­day about the al­le­ga­tions in the Philip­pines. “It’s groom­ing chil­dren -- young chil­dren -- that are in­ter­ested in be­ing in­volved in church ac­tiv­i­ties and tak­ing those kids and sex­u­ally abus­ing them.”

“He be­friended them, he would in­vite them to his res­i­dence” be­fore en­gag­ing in pro­gres­sively in­ti­mate con­tact, some­times in­clud­ing oral and anal sex, Glass­man said.

US law crim­i­nalises cer­tain il­le­gal sex­ual con­duct by Amer­i­can cit­i­zens abroad. Hen­dricks is charged in fed­eral court in Cincin­nati on a count of en­gag­ing in il­licit sex­ual con­duct in for­eign places, pun­ish­able by fines and/ or up to 30 years in prison. Hen­dricks was be­ing held in a Philip­pines Bu­reau of Im­mi­gra­tions hold­ing fa­cil­ity in Manila, the bu­reau said.

His at­tor­ney in the Philip­pines, Mario Opeña, told that the priest main­tains the al­le­ga­tions are false.

“As far as Fa­ther Hen­dricks is con­cerned, the al­le­ga­tions are not true and he will prove his in­no­cence in court,” Opeña said.

CNN

Rev. Ken­neth Bernard Hen­dricks.

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