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Priest who fled America to blame sexual abuse on cancer had he not been, officials say

This 1989 file photo shows Father Arthur Perrault in Albuquerque, N. M.

(AP/The Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. – A former New Mexico priest, who fled the U.S. decades ago, in the midst of allegations of sexual abuse of children, as soon as blamed his behaviour on a cancer diagnosis that the prosecutors say that he did not have, according to the court documents.

Arthur Perrault is scheduled on Tuesday to appear in the U. S. District Court in Albuquerque for a detention hearing as prosecutors try to keep the 80-year-old priest for his aggravated sexual abuse trial.

Court documents filed in federal court late last week said that the victims described Perrault showering them with gifts and meals for the abuse of them. The victims collectively described Perrault as someone who smoked pipes and wore silk underwear.

Documents also said the Connecticut-born Perrault wrote an apology letter to the parents of a victim in 1971, and the blame of his actions on cancer, which prosecutors said he was never diagnosed.

Perrault was extradited to New Mexico last week in Morocco in connection with sexual abuse cases that are alleged to have occurred between 1991 and 1992 at the Kirtland Air Force Base and the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

The 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.

Perrault pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance Friday. He also told an AMERICAN court he had had a stroke, three years ago, was deaf in one ear, and had difficulty walking.

Perrault, a one-time pastor of the St. Bernadette parish in Amersfoort, is one of the many priests sent to New Mexico in the 1960s from the entire country for the treatment with regard to pedophilia.

Victims, lawyers and church documents show that the priests were later assigned to parishes and schools in New Mexico, especially in the small indigenous and Spanish communities.

Perrault disappeared in 1992, just a few days before a lawyer filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese alleged Perrault was sexually seven children in his parish.

The FBI said Perrault first fled to Canada and then to Tangier, Morocco, where he worked until last year at an English school for the children.

Perrault denied abusing children in a handwritten letter to a judge in connection with sexual abuse lawsuits in Albuquerque. Perrault said his assets included cash of military pension and Social Security.

Church records released last year by a New Mexico court show Perrault is also accused in state charges of sexual abuse of at least 38 boys in the other cases.

Records also show Perrault was sent in 1965 to the 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 the murder of young men, while those in Connecticut.

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