American priest arrested in the Philippines for alleged sexual abuse of up to 50 boys

Kenneth Hendricks, a 77-year-old American priest, allegedly molested dozens of boys while serving for over three decades at a church in Biliran province, south of Manila.
Kenneth Hendricks, a 77-year-old American priest, allegedly molested dozens of boys while serving for over three decades at a church in Biliran province, south of Manila.PHOTO: PHILIPPINE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION

MANILA - A 77-year-old American priest was arrested in the Philippines on Wednesday (Dec 5) for allegedly molesting dozens of boys while serving for over three decades at a church in Biliran province, south of Manila.

Agents from the US Department of Homeland Security and the Philippine Bureau of Immigration nabbed Kenneth Hendricks inside the Cathedral of Our Lady Rosary Parish in Naval town, in Biliran.

"He did not resist arrest," said Senior Superintendent Julius Coyme, the provincial police director.

A report from the immigration bureau said Hendricks had an arrest warrant for a rape complaint filed in Ohio for "engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places".

The complaint was lodged by one of his alleged victims.

Later investigations showed that Hendricks, who had been living in Naval for 37 years, might have sexually abused up to 50 other boys, most of whom served as his "sacristans", or altar assistants. One victim was said to be just seven years old.

Mr Coyme told The Philippine Daily Inquirer he was aware of at least seven complaints of "indecent sexual conduct involving minors" lodged against Hendricks. One involved a 12-year-old.

He said he understood from information provided by Homeland Security officials that there could be more victims involved.

"They came to us last week and informed us that they are still gathering information as there could be more victims," he said.

The Catholic Church is being rocked by a new wave of sexual abuse scandals.

In Chile, prosecutors have raided church offices, seized documents and accused leaders of a cover-up. In Australia, top church figures are facing detention and trials.

In the US, after the resignation of a cardinal, questions are swirling about a hierarchy that looked the other way and protected him for years.

A report on sexual abuse in Germany, meanwhile, said 3,677 people were abused by priests between 1946 and 2014.

Pope Francis in September defrocked a Chilean priest who was a central character in the global sex abuse scandal rocking his papacy.