Courthouse News Service
November 19, 2020
By Amanda Pampuro
A former Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing minors in the 1990s told a 10th Circuit panel Thursday that the jury that found him guilty was clearly predisposed to distrust him after listening to several other witnesses who said they saw him commit similar acts of abuse.
In October 2019, a jury convicted Arthur Perrault, then 81, of sexually abusing children at Santa Fe National Cemetery and Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, where he served as a chaplain in the 1990s.
Throughout the trial, several other victims came forward to testify that Perrault had abused them hundreds of times as young boys under the age of 12, while he served as a Catholic priest at St. Bernadette’s parish and Our Lady of Assumption in Albuquerque. The tales of abuse went back as far as 1966, when Perrault was teaching at St. Pius Catholic High School.
Perrault fled the country in 1992, as a New Mexico state attorney was preparing lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe over the priest’s alleged crimes. Perrault was finally extradited from Morocco in 2018 to stand trial.
Following the trial, U.S. District judge Martha Vazquez, appointed by Bill Clinton, sentenced Perrault to 30 years in prison.
On Thursday, public defender Aric Grant Elsenheimer told a 10th Circuit panel Vazquez had erred in letting seven propensity witnesses testify.
“What if the court allowed five?” asked U.S. Circuit Judge Gregory Phillips, a Barack Obama appointee.
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