Lawyer for US Priest Says to Appeal Extradition

February 2, 2006

ROME (Reuters) - A Rome court on Thursday ruled that a fugitive American priest wanted in the United States on charges of sexually molesting boys can be extradited home but his lawyer said he would appeal the decision.

Father Joseph Henn, wanted by authorities in Arizona since 2003, has been living under house arrest at the headquarters of his religious order in Rome.

U.S. authorities want him extradited to face charges of molesting three boys when he worked in a parish in Phoenix diocese in the 1980s.

His lawyer, Michele Gentiloni Silverij, told reporters he would appeal the extradition ruling to a higher court. The Justice Ministry will have to make the final decision on the extradition, however.

The lawyer raised eyebrows last November when he urged the court not to approve the extradition saying his client risked being killed in prison if he were sent home.

The U.S. Catholic Church has been rocked by a priestly sexual abuse scandal that began in Boston in 2002, when it emerged that priests who had abused children and teenagers were transferred from parish to parish instead of being defrocked.

As the scandal swept across the United States the finances of many American dioceses have been hit by multi-million dollar law suits by those claiming to have been molested by priests when they were children or teenagers.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.