FOR allegedly sexually molesting several minors in Biliran, mostly altar boys or ‘sacristans,’ a 77-year-old American Catholic priest wanted by United State authorities was arrested by the Bureau of Immigration-fugitive search unit (BI-FSU) team Wednesday.
Fr. Kenneth Bernard Pius Hendricks of Ohio, USA (passport number 447373299), was escorted by the BI team led by FSU Chief Bobby Raquepo and intelligence officer Rendel Ryan Sy, along with members of the US Department of Homeland Security, as he arrived from Tacloban at the NAIA Terminal 3 at around 8 p.m. aboard Cebu Pacific.
Hendricks was in handcuffs and constantly covered his face with a white handtowel as he evaded the media. From the airport, he was made to board a BI van and was taken to the bureau’s main office in Intramuros for proper documentation before being brought to the BI’s detention facility in Bicutan.
Raquepo said the arrest of Hendricks in the Diocese of Naval town, Biliran Island, stemmed from the latter’s indictment before the Ohio court on charges of “engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.”
On November 30, 2018, US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Magistrate Judge Stephanie Bowman issued an arrest warrant against Hendricks for engaging in iillicit sexual conduct in foreign places under case number 118MJ-719.
Hendricks had reportedly been serving for 37 years in a church in Naval, a second-class municipality and the capital of the province of Biliran in the Eastern Visayan region.
Raquepo said the arrest came following a request from the US government, particularly the US Homeland security, for the arrest and subsequent deportation of Hendricks.
The BI reportedly received information that some of the victims have come forward to complain formally, accusing the priest of sexually assaulting a number of young boys living in his residence.
According to statements gathered, the priest allegedly warned his victims that they would go to prison if they told anyone about the molestation.
Raquepo said the US court case stemmed from complaints that were filed against the priest from victims in the Philippines, adding that there were also reports that he conducted at least 50 counts of molestation of young boys.
The US Embassy is reportedly processing the revocation of Hendrick’s passport to help facilitate his immediate deportation but according to Raquepo, he will have to be processed initially and then subsequently commited to the BI’s detention facility.
Pending the resolution of the criminal cases filed against him, Hendricks’ deportation will have to be held in abeyance until such time that a final judgment is issued against him by the local court.