American priest Father Kenneth Bernard Hendricks was arrested in Naval in Biliran province on charges of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country. (Photo courtesy of Biliran Blogs)
An American priest working in the central Philippines was arrested on Dec. 5 for allegedly sexually abusing dozens of boys over the last four decades.
Philippine police and immigration officials and U.S. Homeland Security agents arrested Father Kenneth Bernard Hendricks, 78, inside the Catholic church in Naval, a town in Biliran province.
The U.S. District Court of Ohio issued a warrant for the priest’s arrest on Nov. 11 on charges of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country, a crime in the United States.
Police director Julius Coyme of Biliran said Father Hendricks "did not resist arrest." He said at least seven complaints against the priest have been filed with police.
Police later revealed that there may have been as many as 50 victims, most of whom were children as young as 12 who served as sacristans and altar servers.
An earlier report said two children had filed cases against the priest on Nov. 9 for alleged sexual assault.
Immigration spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said it was alleged the priest would insist on taking baths together with the boys and molest his victims while they were alone or with others.
On Dec. 6, Father Hendricks was undergoing deportation proceedings in Manila.
Residents of Naval expressed shock on learning of the allegations against the priest.
Local historian Rolando Borrinaga, a close friend of the priest, said he only learned about the case and the arrest of Father Hendricks from news reports.
"The news was the other extreme of what I knew about the man since my childhood," said Borrinaga, a former altar boy of the priest, who added that he was "deeply shocked" by his arrest.
The historian said Father Hendricks, whom he last saw in 2014, used to be a Franciscan brother before becoming a priest.
The Catholic News Agency reported that the priest is a former Franciscan and a member of the Order of Friars Minor's Province of St. John the Baptist in Cincinnati.
Naval Diocese could not be reached for comments when contacted by ucanews.com.