MANILA — An aged American priest has been arrested by United States Homeland Safety brokers on expenses that he sexually assaulted at the least seven Filipino altar boys within the rural central Philippines, the place he has ministered for many years.
The suspect, Rev. Kenneth Bernard Hendricks, 77, was arrested Wednesday within the city of Naval, an impoverished group in Biliran Province, stated Dana Krizia Sandoval, a spokeswoman for the immigration bureau of the Philippines.
“We obtained data from U.S. authorities relating to the alleged sexual exploitation of a number of minor Filipino boys by Hendricks,” Ms. Sandoval stated. “A number of of his victims have come ahead with their statements.”
Ms. Sandoval stated “at the least seven kids have come ahead, however our sources estimate at the least 50 instances have been unreported.”
Operatives from the immigration bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit joined with the nationwide police and Homeland Safety brokers in making the arrest, which shocked residents locally of 50,000.
“Hendricks allegedly sexually assaulted numerous boys dwelling in his residence,” Ms. Sandoval stated, including that the priest allegedly informed the boys that he can be imprisoned if the authorities realized of his conduct.
“It’s surprising and appalling,” she added. “I’m horrified studying the fees in opposition to him. We won’t permit sexual predators to prey on our kids.”
The priest allegedly ordered the boys to take baths with him and molested them both one on one or with different boys, she stated.
The priest was the topic of an arrest warrant issued by a courtroom in Ohio, Ms. Sandoval added.
Mr. Hendricks has been dwelling within the Philippines for 37 years, principally in the identical space, working first as a Franciscan brother earlier than he was ordained into the priesthood, based on individuals who knew him.
“The allegations got here as a shock,” stated Rolando Borrinaga, a neighborhood historian, who as soon as labored as an altar boy and knew the priest. “I used to be saddened as a result of on a regular basis that I’ve recognized him he has been buddy and priest.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Convention of the Philippines stated it was conscious of the arrest, however it has not issued an announcement. However the arrest of Mr. Hendricks could possibly be utilized by President Rodrigo Duterte as ammunition in opposition to the church.
Mr. Duterte, who says he was molested by a priest when he was a toddler, seized on the arrest Wednesday to renew his frequent assaults on the church. He asserted that such abuses have been frequent within the faith.
“Essentially the most hypocritical establishment in the complete Philippines is the Catholic Church and the pope is aware of that,” he informed labor officers throughout a speech on the presidential palace within the capital, Manila, by which he assailed native bishops.
The Philippines is predominantly Catholic and the church retains robust affect within the nation. It has led anti-Duterte protests calling for a halt to his warfare on medicine, which has left 1000’s useless.
Mr. Duterte’s assaults on the church come as monks within the nation have come below at occasions violent assaults. At the least three Catholic monks have been killed by unknown gunmen since early this 12 months after having spoken out in opposition to extrajudicial killings carried out within the identify of the drug warfare.
The nation’s Fee on Human Rights warned on Thursday that the president’s statements “might embolden the violence in opposition to monks and different spiritual individuals.”