Runaway Priests
Hiding in Plain Sight
The Rev. Joseph "Joe" Henn
Rome Case Study #6

Dallas Morning News
September 12, 2004

[See also the main article in this feature, In the Shadow of the Vatican: Accused Clerics Serving in Rome, Heart of the Catholic Church, by Reese Dunklin, and the other case studies on Revs. James Tully, Edgar Hidalgo, Barry Bossa, Julian Fox, and John Baptist Ormechea. The main article and case studies were also released as a series of four PDFs 1 2 3 4. See earlier articles in the Runaway Priests series.]

In mid-2003, while living in Rome, he was indicted on 13 molestation charges involving assaults on three Phoenix boys decades earlier. Prosecutors sought extradition after he refused to return voluntarily.


He lives in the Salvatorian religious order's worldwide headquarters.


In the early 1980s, allegations circulated among parents in Phoenix that Father Henn was acting inappropriately with their children, according to documents and interviews. One mother reported the priest to church officials after her son confided that Father Henn had molested him. Within weeks, the priest was gone, according to a statement the son gave criminal investigators last year. A spokeswoman for the Phoenix diocese did not return messages but has previously said there was no record of a complaint. The son, Richard Rivezzo, has filed a lawsuit against the diocese. In the 1990s, the diocese paid a confidential settlement to another former parishioner who had accused Father Henn of abusing him when he was younger, according to documents from the Maricopa County Attorney's office in Phoenix. That man declined to talk to The News. Maricopa County officials said authorities were not told about Father Henn before the recent criminal investigation.

The Priest Says

He said his lawyers were working to "make sure that everything was sort of finished" and would not comment further.

The Salvatorians Say

Officials refused interview requests. In a written statement, the order's U.S. and Rome leaders insisted they had told Father Henn to return to Phoenix and answer the charges. He refused to do so, and they let him stay.


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