An American Catholic priest wanted for allegedly sexually abusing Filipino altar boys as young as seven has been arrested in the Philippines and now faces deportation, officials said today.
Kenneth Bernard Hendricks, 77, was taken into custody on Wednesday on the central island of Biliran after serving as a priest for 37 years in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.
"We received information from US authorities regarding the alleged sexual exploitation of multiple minor Filipino boys by Hendricks," immigration bureau spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said in a statement.
"This is our priority, to kick out people like this because they are preying on our children," she told AFP.
Hendricks was wanted on an American warrant after being indicted by a US court on charges of "engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places", immigration authorities said.
The US embassy in Manila did not immediately provide comment on the case. It was not clear how American authorities had learned of the allegations.
The priest allegedly abused altar boys, who were between the ages of seven and 12, in his residence and warned them they would go to prison if they told anyone about the molestation, they added.
Hendricks, wearing a blue shirt and glasses, calmly nodded as he was being read his rights, TV reports showed. He later said he wanted to see the charges against him in writing.
The local police said Hendricks was also the subject of a separate investigation by Philippine authorities after two boys filed a complaint against him.