Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – When he was a 12-year-old altar boy, John Doe #8 told his mother he was being molested by the Rev. Arthur Perrault, and she didn’t believe him. In June 1992, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe denied the boy had been sexually abused but settled his civil claim out of court, promising Perrault would get therapy to prevent another boy from being harmed.
On Tuesday, the now 60-year-old John Doe #8 told a federal court jury, sometimes through his tears, how he was seduced and eventually molested by Perrault some 48 years ago.
He recalled that the first assault occurred while Perrault was driving him to the mountains northwest of Albuquerque, telling his parents they had “church business” to do.
Perrault began groping him 30 minutes into the trip, he testified, then pulled off the road, stopped the car and finished the assault.
Their trip ended at a building complex John Doe #8 now believes was the Servants of the Paraclete center in Jemez Springs, where pedophile priests from around the country were sent for rehabilitation.
Once they arrived there, he testified, they lit candles, knelt down and prayed the rosary.
“I remember him saying that he cared about me and that I was now a man,” said John Doe #8, one of four men who were called as prosecution witnesses Tuesday to show Perrault’s alleged “propensity” for molesting boys in Albuquerque.
Perrault, 81, has pleaded not guilty to seven federal sexual misconduct charges involving another former altar boy.
That boy was allegedly sexually assaulted repeatedly by Perrault more than 20 years after John Doe #8 first tried to tell his mother he no longer wanted to be an altar boy and used a derogatory Spanish term to describe Perrault’s sexual tendencies.
“My mother told me to never talk about a Catholic priest like that. She didn’t believe me. I thought my life was over. I didn’t know what to do,” he testified.
All four men, some showing little emotion, testified how they lost their innocence – and some lost their religion – because of Perrault.
John Doe #8 testified that he wanted to die after the experience.
“I know it’s ruined my life,” he testified, “I’m embarrassed to say I wished to God he would have taken my life.”
John Doe #8 now cares for a son who is quadriplegic. While wiping tears from his face, he testified that he still sometimes thinks about dying. “I couldn’t do that to him. But I think about it,” he said.
Perrault spent 28 years working as a priest and teacher in the Albuquerque area after being released from the Servants of the Paraclete in the mid-1960s. Catholic officials in East Hartford, Conn., had sent him there for treatment less than two years after he was ordained a priest.
His last assignment in New Mexico was at St. Bernadette’s parish. He served as pastor there for seven years until allegations of his sexual misconduct came to light publicly in the fall of 1992 and he abruptly left the country.
A federal grand jury issued a sealed indictment in 2017, and last September the FBI brought Perrault back from Tangier, Morocco, where he had been teaching at an American school.
In the opening day of testimony Tuesday, John Doe #8 recounted for the jury that his family attended Our Lady of Guadalupe church on Griegos NW. Perrault told him he was “head altar boy.”
“He made me feel very special,” said the man, who recalled how Perrault took him to the theater and the officers club at Kirtland Air Force Base, where they dined on shrimp and the boy learned shrimp were called prawns.
He estimated Perrault “touched him inappropriately” at least 100 times during up to three years. As an adult and father of three children, he had uncontrollable anger.
John Doe #8 signed a settlement agreement with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe with a provision that Perrault receive treatment. But some years back, John Doe #8 saw a newspaper article showing another alleged victim holding a photo of Perrault. “I broke down crying” realizing Perrault’s alleged sexual abuse of boys had continued despite the settlement.
John Doe #8 said he contacted the man and “apologized to him that I wasn’t able to stop his abuse.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting Perrault for sexual abuse of that man in 1991 and 1992.
Testimony continues today.