Former Priest Wanted on Abuse Charges in Arizona Arrested in Italy
Catholic News Service
May 31, 2019
Michele Gentiloni, Henn’s attorney, said his client was taken into custody May 28 after trying to use his expired U.S. passport as identification to pick up some medicine he needed. A spokesman for the Carabinieri, the Italian police force that apprehended Henn, disputed that version of events, claiming instead that the priest had requested assistance at a city-run immigrant assistance center using a false name.
Henn was assigned by the Salvatorian order to serve at St. Mark Parish in Phoenix from 1978 to 1982. He was indicted on sexual abuse charges in 2003 and arrested in Rome in July 2005 after a request but disappeared before he could be extradited to the United States to stand trial.
“The Diocese of Phoenix is pleased to learn that authorities have located and apprehended former Salvatorian priest Joseph Henn in Italy,” said diocesan officials in a statement. “We support the efforts of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to extradite Henn and return him to the United States in order to face the criminal charges against him.”
Henn is identified on the Diocese of Phoenix website as a priest who has been removed from ministry due to sexual misconduct with a minor.
He was expelled from his order and removed from the priesthood in 2006 and is currently is in Rome’s Regina Coeli prison awaiting questioning, which must happen by June 3, his attorney told Catholic News Service May 31.
Fr. Jeff Wocken, U.S. provincial of the Salvatorians, confirmed to CNS that Henn had been removed from the order and the priesthood in 2006, and that he had left the Salvatorian headquarters before the extradition order could be carried out.
According to the 2004 annual report for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Henn was charged with 10 counts of child molestation, one count of attempted sexual contact with a minor, one count of attempted child molestation and two counts of sexual conduct with a minor.
Henn had been accused of molesting at least three boys under the age of 15 between 1979 and 1981 when he was living and working in Phoenix.