The FBI extradited a former priest from Morocco to the U.S. to face trial for seven counts of sexually assaulting and abusing a child under the age of 12, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Arthur Perrault, 80, served as a Catholic priest in New Mexico under the archdiocese of Santa Fe from 1973 to 1992. Perrault allegedly sexually abused a minor in 1991 and 1992 in New Mexico’s Kirtland Air Force Base and Santa Fe National Cemetery. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
“The indictment alleges a profound breach of trust by an individual who was widely perceived as a mentor to young people and a respected figure in the community,” U.S. Attorney John Anderson said in a statement. “Although the indictment charges acts allegedly committed many years ago, 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 this defendant sought to put between himself and these alleged offenses.”
Perrault’s arrest comes as the Catholic Church is embroiled in a wide-reaching scandal of priests and other church staff sexually abusing and molesting children and teens. The scandal broke with a Pennsylvania grand jury report that found that more than 1,000 children and young adults were sexually abused by more than 300 priests across six dioceses. (RELATED: Grand Jury Report Details Decades Of Child Abuse By Hundreds Of Accused ‘Predator Priests’)
Earlier this week, the Catholic Church paid a historic sum to settle with four victims of sexual abuse and harassment at the hands of a Catholic teacher in New York.
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