A former Catholic priest who sexually abused an 11-year-old boy in the early 1990s in New Mexico and was extradited to the United States from Morocco, was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison.
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Federal judge, Martha Vazquez gave the former religious leader, Arthur Perrault, the maximum sentence possible after a jury found him guilty last April.
Perrault, now 81, sexually abused a then 11-year-old altar boy at the Santa Fe National Cemetery and the Kirtland Air Force Military Base in 1991 and 1992 where he served as priest. During the trial, seven other men testified that they had also been sexually molested by Perrault when they were children between 1960 and 1980.
U.S. Attorney John Anderson said in a statement regarding the case:, "There are few acts more horrific than the long-term sexual abuse of a child.” She added, “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 from Reuters. The victim, now an adult, testified that Perrault began to shower him with gifts and build his trust beginning when he was 9 years old, before sexually assaulting him two years later, prosecutors said at the sentencing.
The former priest served in several churches in New Mexico before leaving the U.S. in 1992 when he fled to Morocco upon learning that some of his victims intended to speak out publicly regarding Perrault’s multiple cases of sexual abuse.
Moroccan police authorities arrested Perrault on Oct. 12, 2017 at U.S. request and he was extradited by the U.S. FBI on September 20, 2018 where he has since been in federal custody.
Perrault had worked at the American Language Center in Morocco for more than 20 years.
Prosecutors are processing the case as part of the Safe Childhood Project, a national initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of exploitation and child sexual abuse.
The U.S. Catholic Church has paid out more than US$3 billion to settle clergy abuse cases, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks the crimes.
Under federal law, a convicted defendant must serve at least 85 percent of a sentence, meaning Perrault will likely die in prison.