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Cincinnati priest accused of sexually assaulting altar boys arrested in Philippines

Federal law enforcement officials held a briefing Thursday, announcing sexual abuse charges against a former Cincinnati priest Thursday.

The charges span at least a decade, with the first case reported in 2009, officials said.

The priest, the Rev. Kenneth Bernard Henricks, 77, is currently assigned internationally by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to mission work, federal officials said in a press release.

Hendricks was arrested by Philippine immigration authorities, accused of sexually assaulting altar boys in a remote central town in a case one official described as "shocking and appalling."

Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said Thursday that Hendricks, who has been indicted in Ohio for on suspicion of illicit sexual conduct in the Philippines, was arrested in a church in town of Naval on the island province of Biliran.

The Department of Homeland Security said a total of 10 victims have come forward, all from the Philippines where Hendricks served as a missionary for over 37 years.

The victims served mostly as altar boys in the remote town of Naval and were the subject of 50 counts of molestation in his residence in a case that's "both shocking and appalling," Sandoval said.

"The victims were in his house and the abuses were committed while he was taking a bath with each of them," Sandoval said by telephone. U.S. authorities provided information about the alleged sexual assaults to the Philippine government, she said.

HSI official Steve Francis said five victims officially filed reports of sexual abuse on Nov. 30, and since then, five more victims have come forward.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman said that since more and more victims are coming forward, he wants to gather as much information on Hendricks as possible to make sure all victims are being vindicated.

Glassman said while Hendricks lived in the Philippines for over 37 years, he would annually take trips back to the United States and stay for months.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati released a statement, saying Hendricks is not, nor has ever been a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Read the full statement here:

Fr. Kenneth Henricks, who was arrested in the city of Naval in the Philippines on Dec. 5, 2018 is not, nor has ever been, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. To the best of our knowledge, he was ordained to the priesthood in the Philippines to serve in a diocese there. He has never had any assignment with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 44th largest Catholic diocese in the country, with more than 450,000 Catholics, and has the sixth largest Catholic school system in terms of enrollment with more than 40,000 students. The 19-county territory includes 211 parishes and 111 Catholic primary and secondary schools

Glassman said it is "highly probable" there are other victims.

The victims were reportedly warned they would be locked up in jail if they told anyone about the abuse, she said.

The U.S. Embassy may revoke Hendrick's passport to help Philippine authorities immediately deport the priest, the immigration bureau said in a statement.

Hendricks is "a fugitive from justice that poses a risk to public safety and security," Sandoval said. "We will not allow sexual predators to prey on our children. People like him must be kicked out and banned from the Philippines."

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly lashed out at the dominant Catholic church and its priests over such abuses, saying he himself along with other students were sexually molested by an American priest in their high school days.

In separate speeches Wednesday, Duterte claimed almost 90 percent of Catholic priests were homosexual and also admonished Catholics to "kill your bishops, they are useless fools. All they do is criticize."

"I'm telling you, the most hypocritical institution in the entire Philippines is the Catholic church, and the pope knows that," Duterte said.

A Catholic priest and Duterte critic, Amado Picardal, said the president's remarks on the church may be aimed at diverting public attention from his widely criticized, deadly war on drugs, the government's failure to stop the smuggling of illegal drugs; into the country; continuing poverty; corruption; and other issues.

He said Duterte may also feel threatened by the Catholic church, which played a role in the ouster of two Philippine presidents, including the 1986 overthrow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

"Many people believe that his controversial statements are simply a way of diverting the people's attention from the real issues raised against him," Picardal said.

Federal officials are asking anyone with information to call HSI at 513-246-1461.



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