FBI agents assumed custody of Perrault from Moroccan authorities on Thursday, September 20, and extradited him from Morocco to the US to face federal child sexual abuse charges in New Mexico.
“Bringing Arthur Perrault back to New Mexico took a lot of patience and perseverance, but the FBI and our partners were determined to make sure he faced justice,” said FBI special agent in charge James Langenberg.
Moroccan authorities arrested Perrault on October 12, 2017. He was arrested “on a provisional arrest warrant issued based on the charges in the indictment,” the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico announced Friday, September 21.
Perrault, 80, was a Catholic priest who served in New Mexico’s Archdiocese of Santa Fe from 1973 to 1992.
“The FBI located him in Morocco last year. He was working at an English-language school for children and subsequently fired, according to authorities,” reported news outlet KOB.
Perrault had been living in Tangier and working at the American Language Center there since he left the US in 1992.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, Perrault is “charged in a seven-count indictment with engaging in acts constituting aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact with a minor under the age of 12.”
Count 1 of the indictment stated that Perrault committed sexual acts on a child under the age of 12.
The indictment alleges that Perrault repeatedly sexually abused a minor victim at the Kirtland Air Force base in New Mexico and at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in New Mexico in 1991 and 1992.
“The indictment alleges a profound breach of trust by an individual who was widely perceived as a mentor to young people and a respected figure in the community,” said US Attorney John Anderson.
Although Perrault is accused of acts committed many years ago, the “indictment should make clear that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will pursue justice for victims despite the passage of time or the many miles this defendant sought to put between himself and these alleged offenses,” Anderson added.
Perrault was scheduled to first appear before US Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen on Friday afternoon.
On Friday, Perrault pleaded not guilty to the seven charges brought against him, according to KOB.
If found guilty, Perrault could face a maximum penalty of a lifetime imprisonment.
Following Perrault’s extradition, the FBI Albuquerque office in New Mexico, which investigated the case, recognized the effort of the Moroccan government.
“The extradition of Perrault is the result of close cooperation between these investigating agencies and prosecutors, the Morocco Ministry of Justice, Moroccan law enforcement authorities, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, and the FBI Legal Attaché in Morocco,” reads the US Attorney Office’s statement.