In Santa Fe, ex-priest guilty on 7 counts of child sex abuse

For years, Elaine Montoya would type the name of the man she said had abused her into an internet search engine to check if he had died.

Former Roman Catholic priest Arthur Perrault had sexually abused her hundreds of times when she was a teenager in the 1970s, she said Wednesday. But days before Montoya and her brother, who also says he was abused by Perrault, filed a lawsuit against him in 1992, the man fled the country.

Perrault became a ghost Montoya expected to resurface in obituary announcements. Then, two years ago, the FBI contacted her and said Perrault had been found and detained in Morocco.

“It was beyond my wildest imagination,” said Montoya, 59. “For the past 26 years, we never thought anything would come of this. … We never thought this would happen in our lifetime.”

Following a federal trial in Santa Fe that began early last week, a jury convicted Perrault on six counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact with a minor under the age of 12 in a case in which the former priest was accused of raping and molesting an altar boy at Kirtland Air Force Base and the Santa Fe National Cemetery between 1991 and 1992.

The location of the crimes placed the case under federal jurisdiction.

Perrault, 81, served as a chaplain at Kirtland and a priest in various Albuquerque parochial schools and parishes from 1966-92.

At least 38 people have accused him of abusing them during that time, when they were children, and more than a half-dozen testified during the trial. But the charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice focused on a single accuser, a man who was 10 when he said the abuse began.

Now in his late 30s, the man first came forw...

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