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Prosecutors to add to evidence against accused priest

Fr. Arthur Perrault

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Federal prosecutors in Albuquerque revealed on Monday they intend to bolster their case against Rev. Arthur Perrault by introducing evidence of Perrault’s “uncharged” crimes against eight other boys allegedly sexually assaulted more than two decades ago.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office notice summarizes Perrault’s alleged assaults, including those that occurred in his car and at Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe, and Ojo Caliente hot springs spas. Some involved oral and anal sex. One unnamed victim quoted Perrault as saying the “conduct was not improper because God made them that way,” the notice states.

Perrault was returned from Morocco in September by the FBI to face prosecution in New Mexico on a federal indictment charging him with aggravated sexual abuse and aggravated sexual contact. Now 80, Perrault is being held in federal custody pending trial.

His 2017 indictment, which was sealed until his arrest, came 25 years after he abruptly left his post as pastor of St. Bernadette’s parish in the Northeast Heights area of Albuquerque as allegations about him surfaced publicly. He fled to Canada, and then Morocco, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S.

His attorney declined to comment Monday, but Perrault has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which could send him to prison for life if he is convicted.

The notice filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office shows the prosecution’s list of alleged victims dates back to the mid-1960s, in the years after Perrault was released from a treatment center for priests run by the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs. Perrault was sent there by the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., after allegations arose that he had inappropriately “touched” youths.

Some of the evidence to be presented at Perrault’s trial relates to the unnamed victim in the indictment who alleged the assaults occurred on federal property, at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, and at the Santa Fe National Cemetery when he was an altar boy in the early 1990s, the notice states.

Other evidence involves “uncharged conduct, virtually all of which occurred outside of federal jurisdiction that could have been charged in an indictment if it occurred on federal property and within the applicable statute of limitations period,” states the notice filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Holland S. Kastrin and Sean J. Sullivan.

Lawyers for victims allege Perrault sexually assaulted up to 38 children during the 26 years he worked as a priest and pastor in four Albuquerque parishes and St. Pius X High School. He also was an Air Force chaplain.

Despite civil lawsuits and other legal claims filed by alleged victims, no state charges have been brought against Perrault because New Mexico’s criminal statute of limitations expired.

But federal prosecutors contend there are no federal statute of limitations issues with charging Perrault under federal law.

Their notice states that evidence of other similar crimes involving sexual assault and child molestation may be allowed into evidence as “inextricably intertwined” with the criminal charges filed against him.

Of the eight children described in the notice as victims, Perrault is alleged to have repeatedly sexually abused two brothers in the bedroom of their family home. Both were altar boys and their parents frequently invited Perrault to their home for Sunday dinner.

“They eventually disclosed this abuse to each other and their parents,” the notice stated. “The boys’ father confronted Defendant, who later apologized to their mother at a church function.”

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