Albuquerque, Sept 22 (AP/UNB) — A fugitive priest who fled the U.S. decades ago amid allegations of child sex abuse has been returned to New Mexico to face charges after being arrested in Morocco last year, federal officials said Friday.
Arthur J. Perrault, 80, a former Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and a former Air Force chaplain, has been charged in a federal indictment with seven counts of aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact between 1991 and 1992 at Kirtland Air Force Base and Santa Fe National Cemetery.
Perrault, a one-time pastor at St. Bernadette parish in Albuquerque, is one of many priests who were sent to New Mexico in the 1960s from around the country for treatment involving pedophilia.
Victims, lawyers and church documents show the priests were later assigned to parishes and schools across New Mexico — especially in small Native American and Hispanic communities.
At a court appearance Friday, Perrault pleaded not guilty to all seven counts against him. His attorney couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
"The FBI and our partners were determined to make sure he faced justice — no matter how long it took and how far we had to go to get him," said James Langenberg, FBI special agent in charge of the Albuquerque office.
Perrault vanished in 1992, just days before an attorney filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese alleging Perrault had sexually assaulted seven children at his parish.
The FBI said Perrault first fled to Canada and then to Tangier, Morocco, where he worked until last year at an English-language school for children.
The FBI did not provide further details on how he was located and arrested by Moroccan authorities.
Church records released last year by a New Mexico judge show Perrault is also accused in state lawsuits of sexually abusing at least 38 boys in other incidents.
The federal charges involve a boy who was younger than 12 at the time of the alleged abuse on the air base and at the cemetery — both federal jurisdictions.
"This is a great day for survivors of clergy abuse everywhere," said Brad Hall, an attorney who has represented more than 100 victims of Catholic clergy abuse in New Mexico.
Records show Perrault was sent in 1965 to Servants of the Paraclete — a religious order that ran a treatment center for pedophile priests in Jemez Springs, New Mexico — after he was accused of molesting young men while serving in Connecticut.
A year later, he was recommended for a teaching post at St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque by a psychologist under contract with Servants of the Paraclete.
Langenberg said the FBI's investigation began in 2016 and led to the indictment last year.
"There were some people who doubted Mr. Perrault would ever be back to New Mexico after being away for so long," Langenberg said. "It was important to prove them wrong for one reason — the victim in this case."
Aberdeen, Sept 22 (AP/UNB) — A family friend says one of the victims killed in a shooting at a drugstore distribution center in Maryland was a mother of two who had recently moved to the U.S. from Nepal to try to give her kids a better life.
Harry Bhandari is a community leader and candidate for state delegate who says he has known 41-year-old Brindra Giri's family for about 10 years.
Authorities on Friday identified Giri as one of the three people killed when an employee opened fired at the Rite Aid facility in northeast Maryland.
Bhandari was at a funeral home Friday helping Giri's family make arrangements. He says her relatives are devastated.
Bhandari says Giri and her children joined her husband in the U.S. in April. He says Giri was an energetic hard worker who saw the job as a "stepping stone."
Laredo, Sept 22 (AP/UNB) — Friends and family gathered for funerals in Laredo, Texas, for two of the women authorities say were killed by a Border Patrol agent who has been described as a serial killer.
Funerals were held Friday for 42-year-old Claudine Luera and 28-year-old Janelle Ortiz, a transgender woman whose birth name was Humberto Ortiz.
Authorities say Border Patrol supervisor Juan David Ortiz is accused of killing four women this month. He was arrested Sept. 15 and remains jailed on several charges, including four counts of murder.
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports that during Janelle Ortiz's service, the Rev. Edmundo Lopez Jr. said "we've seen so many families afflicted, hit down, a life too short."
The two other victims were Melissa Ramirez and Guiselda Alicia Cantu.
Omaha, Sept 22 (AP/UNB) — About 500 refugees have been relocated from a Nebraska apartment complex after units were deemed unlivable.
The Omaha World-Herald reports the Myanmar refugees were living at the Yale Park Apartments in north Omaha, including about 175 school-age children and dozens of toddlers and babies.
City inspectors evacuated the apartments Thursday, citing of a myriad of problems ranging from unsafe electrical circuits and natural gas leaks to units infested with mice, bedbugs, lice and maggots.
The refugees are now being housed at community centers where they can sleep, shower and eat.
Joanie Poore is with Heartland Family Service. She says the refugees will likely stay in the centers for several days until moving to other housing with help from donors and charities.
The apartment complex's owner has 30 days to make repairs. He says the units are safe.
Moscow, Sept 21 (AP/UNB) — The Kremlin has dismissed the latest round of U.S. sanctions that affected an aircraft-making factory as an "unfair" move to undercut Russia as a major arms exporter.
The United States on Thursday blacklisted 33 Russian nationals and three entities in a new round of sanctions for the Russian interference in the 2016 election. One of the companies is an aircraft-making factory in Russia's Far East.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that Russia views the new set of sanctions as an attempt to undermine the competitiveness of Russian arms exports and vowed to reciprocate.
As part of the Thursday announcement, the U.S. also imposed sanctions on a Chinese military agency over the purchase of Russian weapons. China has demanded that they be revoked.