Fugitives from Justice: Roman Catholic Priests
Few clergy who fled the U.S. after being accused of sexual abuse of minors have been returned to face the charges

By David Jackson, Gary Marx, Brian Boyer, David Eads, Katie Nieland, and Joe Germuska
Chicago Tribune
March 11, 2012

Since 1985, at least 32 Roman Catholic priests have left the United States for foreign countries while facing criminal charges or a police investigation over allegations that they sexually assaulted or abused minors, according to federal warrants, news reports and law enforcement sources. Only five have been returned to the U.S. to face trial; some died abroad. The number of fugitive priests grows by more than two dozen if it includes those who left the country while facing internal church probes or civil allegations of child sex misconduct, instead of a criminal investigation, and those who were transferred to foreign countries by church authorities before or after allegations surfaced. Many have maintained their innocence. Authorities also have pursued religious leaders from other faith traditions who fled the U.S. amid abuse allegations


[ Aguilar-Rivera | Anthony | Bazalar | Beltran | Brett | Briceno | Chavarin | Cordova Hernandez | Cuello | Desilets | Garcia | Guillen | Henn | Jayawardene | Jeyapaul | Keegan | Kelly | Manzo | Montero | Mowat | O'Keeffe | Ochoa | Olarte | Omemaga | Onyia | Perrault | Pinal | Policetti | Robinson | Sayasaya | Urbina | Widera ]

Aguilar-Rivera Nicolas Aguilar

Fled in 1988 from Los Angeles to Mexico.

Aguilar-Rivera fled as he was being investigated in 1988 over allegations that he molested children at two Los Angeles parishes. He was charged that year with 19 counts of molesting 10 children. After fleeing the U.S., Aguilar-Rivera acted as a priest in Mexico City and at another diocese until 1994, when he was accused of molesting a boy, according to attorneys for the victims. The church defrocked him in 2009, and he reportedly remains at large.

Los Angeles CA to Mexico Aguilar map
Anthony Abraham Abraham Anthony

Fled in 2000 from Jamestown, N.D., to India.

Anthony was charged in 2000 with gross sexual imposition, sexual assault and disorderly conduct in connection with alleged incidents involving three boys aged 13 to 17. Anthony fled as police sought him for questioning, and reportedly remains at large.

Jamestown ND to India Anthony map
Bazalar Juan Juan Bazalar

Fled in 1991 from Monticello, N.Y., to Canada.

Bazalar was charged in 1991 with sodomizing a 14-year-old altar boy. He fled while on bail. Arrested by Canadian police as he prepared to travel to his native Peru, Bazalar was extradited to the U.S., convicted and sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison. The conviction was overturned on appeal, and he was later found not guilty in a retrial after the prosecution’s key witness died.

Monticello NY to Canada Bazalar map
Beltran Gerardo Gerardo Beltran

Fled in 1991 from Sacramento, Calif., to Mexico.

Beltran fled before he was charged with molesting at least two young girls from 1989 to 1991. He served as a priest in Mexico until he was defrocked by the church. He was arrested in Mexico City in 2008 and held for five months pending extradition to the U.S., but was released after Mexican authorities ruled that the statute of limitations had expired.

Sacramento CA to Mexico Beltran map
Brett Laurence Laurence Brett

Fled in 1993 from Baltimore to St. Maarten.

Brett was accused in civil lawsuits of abusing more than 20 young male students as the church transferred him among parishes in four U.S. states. In 1992, the bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., suspended Brett and asked him to leave the priesthood; he soon disappeared. Brett was charged in 1999 with custodial child abuse and a second-degree sexual offense, though prosecutors eventually withdrew those charges for technical reasons.

In 2002, Hartford Courant reporters located Brett on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten and determined he was living in a condo near an opulent resort. He soon disappeared again. The church defrocked Brett that year. He died in 2011 after apparently falling down stairs on the island of Martinique.

Baltimore MD to St. Maarten Brett map
Briceno Joseph  

Fled on unknown date from Phoenix to Mexico.

Briceno was indicted in 2003 on six counts of sexual conduct with a minor dating to the 1980s, as well as abuse. The male victim came forward years after the alleged incidents, which accounts for the delay in filing charges. The church removed Briceno from active duty in 1992 and removed him permanently from public ministry in 2002. Still, Briceno worked as a priest in Mexicali, Mexico, until his capture there in 2005. Briceno was returned to Phoenix, where he pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual conduct with a minor and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Phoenix AZ to Mexico Briceno map
Chavarin Jose  

Fled in 2008 from San Francisco to Mexico.

Allegations surfaced in 2008 that Chavarin had abused two youths between 1986 and 1991, The Associated Press reported. San Diego police told the AP they had received a letter from an attorney representing two people who claimed they were abused. Chavarin apparently fled after officials with the Archdiocese of San Francisco, where he had worked for 11 years, confronted him about the allegations, a diocesan spokesman told the AP. The diocese later received phone calls saying Chavarin was in his native Mexico, the AP reported.

San Francisco CA to Mexico Chavarin map
Cordova Hernandez Jorge Washington  

Fled in 2005 from Tucson, Ariz., to Ecuador and then Spain.

Cordova was charged in 2005 with 10 counts of sexually abusing two minors from 1988 to 1991. Police said Cordova fled first to Ecuador and then to Spain; in Spain, he was detained by authorities who ultimately determined that extradition could not be supported because of the age of the charges. Cordova then returned to Ecuador, where Tucson police learned that he continued to associate himself with the church in an unknown capacity. A warrant remains in effect in Tucson.

Tucson AZ to Ecuador Cordova map
Cuello Gustavo DeJesus  

Fled in 1997 from Tyler, Texas, to Colombia.

Cuello was arrested in 1997 and charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting a 13-year-old altar girl. Cuello fled the U.S. after being released on bail that was largely raised by parishioners. He was captured in 2003 in Ecuador, pleaded guilty in Texas and was sentenced to life in prison. He was defrocked by the Vatican after his conviction.

Tyler TX to Colombia Cuello map
Desilets Paul Paul Desilets

Fled in 2002 from Bellingham, Mass., to Canada.

Desilets was charged in 2002 with more than 20 acts of sexually abusing more than a dozen altar boys. Extradited from Canada in 2005, Desilets pleaded guilty to multiple charges and served 17 months. He has since died.

Bellingham MA to Canada Desilets map
Garcia Francisco Javier Francisco Javier Garcia

Fled in 1995 from Sacramento, Calif., to Mexico.

Garcia fled to Mexico in 1995 after a dozen felony molestation charges were filed against him in Yolo and Colusa counties in California. Mexico agreed to prosecute Garcia on the U.S. charges but eventually dismissed the case against him. The church defrocked Garcia, who also was accused in a lawsuit of abusing children between 1987 and 1994 at three California parishes.

Sacramento CA to Mexico Garcia map
Guillen Juan Juan Guillen

Fled in 2011 from Yuma County, Ariz., to Mexico.

Guillen was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2003 and put on lifetime probation after he was convicted of molesting altar boys, some as young as 10. The activity occurred in Yuma County, Ariz.; Salinas County, Calif.; and Mexico. After Guillen was released from the Arizona State Prison complex in October 2011, he reported to Yuma County probation offices as required but then disappeared and is believed to be in Mexico. He is on the Yuma County most wanted list.

Yuma County AZ to Mexico Guillen map
Henn Joseph Joseph Henn

Fled in 2003 from Phoenix to Italy.

Henn was charged with 13 felony counts involving a boy who was younger than 15. A member of the Salvatorians religious order, Henn fled after being placed under house arrest at the order’s Rome headquarters. He remains at large and is listed as a fugitive on the Interpol website.

Phoenix AZ to Italy Henn map
Jayawardene Tilak  

Fled in 1990 from Glendale, Calif., to Sri Lanka.

Jayawardene was charged in 1991 with six counts of oral copulation involving a 17-year-old boy. Jayawardene’s alleged victim worked at the church and wanted to attend seminary. Jayawardene disappeared during a police investigation and remains a fugitive, although U.S. authorities have sought his extradition.

Glendale CA to Sri Lanka Jayawardene map
Jeyapaul Joseph Palanivel Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul

Fled in 2005 from Crookston, Minn., to India.

Jeyapaul was charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl who came to him to discuss being a nun. In India, he has served as secretary of a diocesan commission that hired teachers for 40 parish schools. An extradition request is pending.

Crookston MN to India Jeyapaul map
Keegan Austin Peter Austin Peter Keegan

Fled in 2003 from San Francisco to Mexico.

Keegan was indicted in 2003 on 102 counts of child molestation involving five Bay Area children in the 1960s. The San Francisco Archdiocese stripped Keegan of his priestly duties in 1982, after years of complaints, and spent $2.4 million on victims’ lawsuits. The archdiocese also paid Keegan $900 a month in “basic sustenance” payments for more than four years starting in 1998, news accounts show.

Keegan was captured in 2003 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he had been working at an orphanage. But that year he was one of hundreds of individuals accused of attacking children who were freed after a U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down a California law that had extended the statute of limitations on child sex charges.

San Francisco CA to Mexico Keegan map
Kelly Patrick M.  

Fled in 1991 from Los Angeles to Ireland.

Kelly was charged in 1991 with misdemeanor counts of child molestation and sexual battery for allegedly fondling a 9-year-old girl. Kelly fled to his native Ireland after learning he was under investigation, despite his assurances to the church that he would remain. Kelly denied the allegations.

Los Angeles CA to Ireland Kelly map
Manzo Fernando Fernando Manzo

Fled in 2003 from Arizona to Mexico.

Manzo came under Tucson, Ariz., police investigation in 2003 for allegedly molesting a teenage nephew. After being summoned to a closed-door meeting with the Tucson bishop, Manzo disappeared, and Tucson diocesan officials suspended him from ministry. A Tucson police investigation determined that several youth had surfaced with allegations of molestation by Manzo during the 1990s and that the archdiocese responded by moving him to new parishes after conducting internal investigations. Tucson police said the case remains assigned to a detective but Manzo is listed as a missing person and is not the subject of a pending warrant.

[Tucson] AZ to Mexico Manzo map
Montero Francisco ‘Fredy’ Francisco Montero

Fled in 2007 from Minneapolis to Ecuador.

Law enforcement officials investigated Montero in 2007 for allegedly molesting a 3- or 4-year-old girl that year. Montero was arrested and booked into jail in Hennepin County, Minn., but was released pending further investigation, and he fled about a week later. Hennepin County prosecutors ultimately did not file charges, citing insufficient evidence, and closed the case. The church said Montero’s bishop in Ecuador had recalled him to that country and, since no charges were pending, he was allowed to go.

Minneapolis MN to Ecuador Montero map
Mowat Anton  

Fled twice, in 1987 and 1991, from Atlanta to England.

Mowat was charged in Atlanta with molesting four altar boys. He left the country in the midst of the investigation in 1987 and was extradited to the U.S. in 1990. He pleaded guilty that year to molesting the boys and was sentenced to six years in prison and nine years’ probation.

Under the terms of his release, Mowat was sent back to England and forbidden to leave until his probation expired in 2005. He also agreed to have no unsupervised contact with children and to stay in contact with his probation officer. But in 1996, a U.S. judge signed a warrant based on allegations that Mowat had picked up an 11-year-old boy in a park in England and touched him inappropriately. Mowat was extradited in 1997 to the U.S. and jailed for breaking his probation.

Atlanta GA to England Mowat map
O'Keeffe Patrick  

Fled in 2002 from San Diego to Ireland.

O'Keeffe was dismissed from all parish duties in 1994 after a lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct was settled by the Diocese of San Diego. O'Keeffe and the church also faced a separate civil lawsuit containing accusations of sexual abuse from more than a dozen girls and women.

Authorities in San Bernardino County, Calif., charged O'Keeffe in 2002 with 15 felony counts of child abuse of a 17-year-old girl during the 1970s. O'Keeffe returned to Ireland days before a warrant was issued for his arrest. The charges were dropped in 2003 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that had extended the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases. He ultimately was defrocked.

San Diego CA to Ireland O'Keeffe map
Ochoa Francis Xavier Francis Xavier Ochoa

Fled in 2006 from Santa Rosa, Calif., to Mexico.

Ochoa was charged in 2006 with raping and molesting at least three children from different families. The Santa Rosa Diocese, which was accused of delaying its notification of civil authorities about the allegations, later paid $5 million to settle a lawsuit by victims, and the bishop was assigned to counseling. Ochoa remained a fugitive until 2009, when he was reportedly found dead in Mexico.

Santa Rosa CA to Mexico Ochoa map
Olarte Mario Arbeleaz  

Fled in 2003 from Salt Lake City to Colombia.

Olarte in 2003 pleaded no contest to enticing a minor over the Internet for sex but fled before sentencing, according to prosecutors. Olarte was arrested after he communicated in an Internet chat room and arranged to meet with a person he thought was a 15-year-old boy, but who was actually a law enforcement officer. The archdiocese suspended Olarte from ministry and withdrew its support of his visa. Because Olarte pled guilty to only a class A misdemeanor before he disappeared, the warrant for his arrest does not extend beyond the Utah border.

Salt Lake City UT to Colombia Olarte map
Omemaga Emmanuel Opilang  

Fled in 1993 from Chula Vista, Calif., to the Philippines.

Omemaga was charged with 39 felony counts of child molestation and sex crimes involving a 14-year-old girl whom he took with a group of teenagers on a field trip to see the pope in Denver. Omemaga fled after church officials met with him and urged him to contact police. The FBI filed a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in 2008, but Omemaga remains at large.

Chula Vista CA to Philippines Omemaga map
Onyia Basil Chukwuma Basil Chukwuma Onyia

Fled in 2001 from Brownsville, Texas, to Nigeria.

Onyia was charged in 2001 with repeatedly sexually assaulting a mentally handicapped teenage girl. The church placed Onyia on administrative leave and ordered him to move to a rectory in another city in Texas, but he fled to his native Nigeria. He worked in parish ministry there, and remains at large.

Brownsville TX to Nigeria Onyia map
Perrault Arthur Arthur Perrault

Fled in 1992 from Albuquerque, N.M., to an unknown location.

Once considered a candidate for bishop, Perrault reportedly fled while under law enforcement investigation after he was accused of molesting a boy in the mid-1970s. A grand jury ultimately decided not to indict him. Perrault had been treated for pedophilia in the 1960s at a psychiatric clinic for priests with mental health problems. Following his discharge from that clinic, he remained in the area as a priest. Church officials have told reporters that he fled the U.S. after the sexual misconduct allegations emerged in 1992

Albuquerque NM to Unknown Perrault map
Pinal Costellano Jose  

Fled in the late 1980s from Sacramento, Calif., to Mexico.

An arrest warrant was issued for Pinal charging him with sodomizing a 14-year-old boy in 1983. Pinal fled to Mexico, where in 1991 he reportedly admitted the abuse in a letter to a bishop. Pinal was charged in 2003 with two counts of sodomy, but those charges were dropped when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down California’s law that had extended the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases.

Sacramento CA to Mexico Pinal map
Policetti Sleeva Raju Sleeva Raju Policetti

Fled in 2002 from Chicago to India.

Policetti was charged in 2002 with 20 counts of criminal sexual assault and abuse of a 16-year-old girl. Policetti fought extradition in court in New Delhi for years. The charges are now in jeopardy because a lawyer for the alleged victim has indicated she may not want to pursue prosecution.

Policetti was barred from ministry in Hyderabad, India, in 2002, three weeks after he fled the U.S., and the Vatican defrocked him in 2008.

Chicago IL to India Policetti map
Robinson Barry  

Fled in 1994 from Boston to Australia.

As part of a church inquiry, Robinson admitted in 1994 to having sex with a 16-year-old boy. Robinson left for his native Australia amid a law enforcement inquiry that did not result in charges. The Boston Globe reported that church officials would not identify the youth to authorities and made no attempt to stop Robinson from leaving the country. The alleged victim ultimately declined to cooperate with authorities.

In Australia, Robinson was initially not allowed to practice as a priest, but he underwent treatment and his treatment team recommended that he resume work as a part-time chaplain, according to Australian news accounts. Robinson was subsequently assigned to fill in for parish priests periodically, to the consternation of some parishioners, those accounts show.

Boston MA to Australia Robinson map
Sayasaya Fernando Fernando Sayasaya

Fled in 1998 from Fargo, N.D., to the Philippines.

Sayasaya was charged in 2002 with gross sexual imposition following allegations that he molested two boys starting in 1995. The Fargo Diocese relieved Sayasaya of his duties in 1998, when the allegations surfaced, and the Vatican subsequently defrocked him.

Fargo ND to Philippines Sayasaya map
Urbina Jose Luis Jose Luis Urbina

Fled in 1989 from Yuba County, Calif., to Mexico.

After pleading guilty to molesting a child parishioner, Urbina fled the country before he was sentenced. He then served as a priest for about a decade. Urbina was defrocked by the church but remained a fugitive.

Yuba County CA to Mexico Urbina map
Widera Siegfried Siegfried Widera

Fled in 2002 from Tucson, Ariz., to Mexico.

Widera was charged in 2002 with 42 counts of molestation involving boys as young as 6 in Milwaukee and California from 1969 to 1985. Widera was barred from ministry in 1985 in Orange County, Calif., but Widera formally remained a priest. He remade himself as a businessman, then fled after he was charged in 2002. He died in Mexico in 2003 after reportedly leaping from a hotel window as Mexican authorities closed in on him.

Tucson AZ to Mexico Widera map

























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