American priest told altar boys ‘you will be sent to jail if you reveal abuse’

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altar boys
Father Kenneth Hendricks photographed at the Bureau of Immigration’s detention centre in Bicutan.

The American Catholic priest accused of repeatedly sexually abusing altar boys in Naval, Biliran, will be deported to face justice in his home country.

Father Kenneth Hendricks is now being detained at the Bureau of Immigration’s detention centre in Bicutan, Taguig City.

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“He is in Bicutan already. He was brought here yesterday afternoon,” bureau spokeswoman Dana Krizia Sandoval said in a text message today (Thursday, December 6).

“We will not allow sexual predators to prey on our children. There will be no special treatment for him,” she added.

No deportation date has been set, but the US Embassy in Manila is processing the revocation of the Cincinnati native’s passport to facilitate his immediate deportation.

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Hendricks was arrested on Tuesday at a cathedral in Naval by operatives of BI’s Fugitive Search Unit, the police and US Homeland Security agents.

This followed a warrant for the 77-year-old’s arrest being issued by a court in Ohio on November 11.

Hendricks has lived and worked as a priest in the Philippines for 37 years. “I am sad leaving this town,” a handcuffed Hendricks told a television news crew following his arrest, but made no mention of the allegations against him.

The church suspended Hendricks from priestly duties after opening an inquiry more than a month ago, Father John Estina of the Catholic diocese in Biliran said.

Altar boys threatened

The suspect allegedly abused at least seven victims, most of them sacristans or altar boys, in 50 counts of molestation at his home.

“The victims were in his house and the abuses were committed while he was taking a bath with each of them,” Sandoval said. Hendricks warned his young victims that they would be sent to jail if they told anyone about the abuse.

President Duterte has repeatedly lashed out at the Catholic church and its priests over such abuses, claiming that he himself was sexually abused by an American priest in his high school days.

In separate speeches yesterday, the president claimed that “almost 90 per cent” of Catholic priests were homosexual and also urged Catholics to “kill your bishops, they are useless fools. All they do is criticise”.

“I’m telling you, the most hypocritical institution in the entire Philippines is the Catholic church and the pope knows that,” he added.

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