The Latest: US judge orders priest held on abuse charges

FILE -This 1989 file photo shows Father Arthur Perrault in Albuquerque, N.M. Perrault, a fugitive priest who fled the U.S. decades ago amid allegations of child sex abuse has been returned to New Mexico to face charges after being arrested in Morocco last year, federal officials said Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (The Albuquerque Journal via AP, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on a former New Mexico priest who fled the U.S. decades ago (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

A federal judge has ordered a priest who fled the U.S. decades ago amid allegations of child sex abuse to be held pending trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen ruled Tuesday that Arthur Perrault was a flight risk despite arguments from his defense attorney that he had no passport, no family and no means to leave the country.

Prosecutor Sean Sullivan argued that the 80-year-old priest was a danger to the community.

Some people who say they are victims of Perrault’s attended the hearing, and applauded and exchanged hugs following the judge’s ruling.

Prosecutors say Perrault had been a chaplain at a base in Albuquerque where he is accused of sexually abusing children.

Court documents say he vanished in 1992, just days before an attorney filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese alleging Perrault had sexually assaulted seven children at his parish. He was located last year in Morocco.

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12:30 a.m.

Prosecutors say a former New Mexico priest who fled the U.S. decades ago amid allegations of child sex abuse enticed victims with gifts, and once blamed his behavior on a cancer diagnosis he didn’t have.

Arthur Perrault is scheduled Tuesday to appear in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque for a detention hearing as prosecutors seek to hold the 80-year-old until his trial for aggravated sexual abuse.

Court documents filed in federal court say victims described Perrault showering them with gifts and meals before abusing them.

Documents also said the Connecticut-born Perrault wrote an apology letter to the parents of one victim in 1971 and blamed his actions on cancer, which prosecutors say he never had.

Perrault was extradited to New Mexico last week from Morocco.

He has pleaded not guilty.

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