Former US priest sentenced to 30 years for ‘horrific’ child sex abuse

Arthur Perrault (81) fled to Morocco in 1992 when crimes became public and was later extradited

A former Roman Catholic priest who fled to Morocco before he was returned to the United States and convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy in New Mexico in the 1990s has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. File image: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters.

A former Roman Catholic priest who fled to Morocco before he was returned to the United States and convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy in New Mexico in the 1990s has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. File image: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters.

 

A former Roman Catholic priest who fled to Morocco before he was returned to the United States and convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy in New Mexico in the 1990s has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

US District Judge Martha Vazquez imposed the sentence in Albuquerque federal court on Arthur Perrault (81), a former Air Force chaplain and colonel, US Attorney John Anderson said in a statement on Friday.

“There are few acts more horrific than the long-term sexual abuse of a child,” Mr Anderson said. “At long last, today’s sentence holds Perrault accountable for his deplorable conduct.”

Perrault’s trial attorney, Samuel Winder, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Perrault was convicted by a federal jury in April on six counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact with a minor in 1991 and 1992 at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque and at the Santa Fe National Cemetery, prosecutors said.

The victim, now an adult, testified that Perrault befriended him when he was nine, showering him with gifts and trips before sexually assaulting him.

Serial molester

Although he was convicted of abusing just one victim, prosecutors alleged in court filings that Perrault was a serial child molester who abused numerous young people over more than 30 years as a priest in New Mexico and Rhode Island.

At his trial, seven other alleged victims testified that Perrault, ordained in 1964, abused them during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

The US Catholic Church has paid out more than $3 billion to settle clerical abuse cases, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks the issue.

Under federal law, a convicted defendant must serve at least 85 per cent of a sentence, meaning Perrault will likely die in prison.

Perrault fled the US in 1992 when his criminal conduct became public, prosecutors said. He was located in Morocco, where he was arrested in 2017 following his indictment on the sex abuse charges, and was extradited to New Mexico.

Linda Card, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, said Perrault served in the Air Force Reserve Chaplain Corps, and for a time was on active-duty status. - Reuters