SANTA FE, N.M. — The Latest on the federal trial of a New Mexico priest charged with sex abuse in New Mexico (all times local):
A U.S. jury has found a former priest guilty of sexually abusing a boy nearly three decades ago at a veterans’ cemetery and Air Force base in New Mexico.
The jury reached the verdict Wednesday against 81-year-old Arthur Perrault, who had vanished from New Mexico in 1992.
He was returned to the United States in September from Morocco to face charges of aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact.
Authorities believe Perrault had multiple victims in New Mexico, but the charges against him stemmed only from the treatment of one boy at Santa Fe National Cemetery and Kirtland Air Force Base, where Perrault was a chaplain.
Prosecutors say the locations fall under federal jurisdiction.
Perrault maintained in court proceedings that he was innocent of the charges.
It will be up to a federal jury in New Mexico to decide the fate of a former Roman Catholic priest who is accused of sexually abusing an altar boy decades ago.
Deliberations began Wednesday in Santa Fe, where Arthur Perrault is being tried on charges of aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact.
Prosecutors in closing arguments described Perrault as a “serial molester,” while his defense questioned whether the case was built on “false memories.”
Once the pastor of one of New Mexico’s largest Catholic parishes, Perrault vanished from the state in 1992 as an attorney prepared to file two lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe alleging he had sexually assaulted seven children.
The 81-year-old Perrault was returned by authorities to the United States from Morocco in September.