Brad Hall and his legal team doggedly pursued notorious child sex abuser Fr. Arthur Perrault.
Hall’s work helped spur the FBI to investigate decades-old allegations and bring Perrault back to the United States from Africa last fall to face federal criminal charges.
The 81-year-old former pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Albuquerque was convicted in April of sexually assaulting a parish altar boy on federal property in New Mexico in the early 1990s. A federal court jury found the assaults occurred at the Santa Fe National Cemetery and Kirtland Air Force Base – where Perrault served as a military chaplain.
Perrault, who is accused of molesting some 38 children in New Mexico, absconded in 1992 after allegations from children and their parents began to surface publicly.
“The Archdiocese (of Santa Fe) even learned how to say, ‘We don’t know for sure where he is. We lost track of him somewhere in Canada or Africa or Europe. Somewhere.’ And people just accepted that.”
Before Perrault was caught, Hall happened to be complaining to his son Tavo, a U.S. Air Force lawyer, that “it doesn’t make any sense to me why I’m paying so much tax money every April for the government to send a (military) pension to a known child rapist.”
Perrault served in the Air Force Reserve in the 1980s and was collecting a military retirement while living in Tangier, Morocco.
Tavo, then stationed at Aviano in Italy, told his dad to call the JAG lawyers in Albuquerque.
So Hall said he started making phone calls asking, ” ‘How do I track this guy down? You’re sending him a pension check every month … let’s find this guy.’ ”
By 2016, Hall had found Perrault.
“And what does he do? He teaches at a boys school.”
Hall filed a civil lawsuit in 2016 against Perrault in state district court in Albuquerque and had him served with a summons to appear in court and defend himself.
“Perrault was arrogant enough to write a letter to Judge Denise Barela Shepherd saying he had been served and that ‘I’m not coming.’ That was enough for us to get a default judgment for $16 million.”
Hall said the former altar boy had already settled an earlier civil claim against the archdiocese.
“We knew we were never going to collect on the ($16 million). But we intended to use it in our ongoing discussions with the federal government to get Perrault back,” Hall said.
“We asked: ‘So if a little bitty lawyer in a little office in Albuquerque can find him and sue him and serve him and get him to write a letter back, why aren’t you arresting him?’ ”
The FBI eventually arranged to have Perrault arrested and detained in Morocco until he could be returned to the U.S. and New Mexico.
Perrault is awaiting sentencing on seven counts of sex abuse and sexual contact. He faces a maximum life prison sentence.