American priest arrested in Philippines on charges of molesting altar boys

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents arrested a 77-year-old American priest in the Philippines for allegedly sexually assaulting at least seven Filipino altar boys.

Rev. Kenneth Bernard Hendricks was arrested on Wednesday in Naval, Philippines, a poor community in the country’s Biliran Province, according to The New York Times.

“We received information from U.S. authorities regarding the alleged sexual exploitation of multiple minor Filipino boys by Hendricks,” Dana Krizia Sandoval, a spokeswoman for the immigration bureau of the Philippines, told the newspaper. “Several of his victims have come forward with their statements.”

Sandoval added that “at least seven children have come forward, but our sources estimate at least 50 cases have been unreported.”

Sandoval said that an Ohio court had issued an arrest warrant for Hendricks. She  told the Columbus Dispatch on Thursday that Hendricks had been indicted in the state for illicit sexual conduct.

A federal court magistrate in Cincinnati reportedly issued the warrant for his arrest.

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman announced that a former Cincinnati priest who had been assigned to work abroad by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was facing charges of sexually abusing multiple boys. Glassman's announcement did not name Hendricks.

The Times reported that operatives in the Philippines' immigration bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit and the national police assisted DHS agents in the arrest.

Hendricks is accused of sexually assaulting multiple boys “living in his residence,” according to Sandoval. She said that the priest allegedly ordered the boys to take baths with him, and that he molested boys individually and in a group setting.

Hendricks ministered in the region for decades, and had been living in the Philippines for 37 years, according to the Times.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines told the Times that it was aware of the arrest, though  it has yet to comment on the matter.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte used the arrest on Wednesday to attack the church, calling it “the most hypocritical institution" in the country.

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