Sept. 9, 2019
By Tim Sullivan
The American priest’s voice echoed over the phone line, his sharp Midwestern accent softened over the decades by a gentle Filipino lilt. On the other end, recording the call, was a young man battered by shame but anxious to get the priest to describe exactly what had happened in this little island village.
“I should have known better than trying to just have a life,” the priest said in the November 2018 call. “Happy days are gone. It’s all over.”
But, the young man later told the Associated Press, those days were happy only for the priest. They were years of misery for him, he said, and for the other boys who investigators say were sexually assaulted by Father Pius Hendricks.
His accusations ignited a scandal that would shake the village and reveal much about how allegations of sex crimes by priests are handled in one of the world’s most Catholic countries.
He was just 12 – a new altar boy from a family of tenant farmers anxious for the $1 or so he’d get for serving at Mass – when he says Hendricks first took him into the bathroom of Talustusan’s little rectory and sexually assaulted him.
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