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Common predator profile underscored in NM child sexual abuse case

Justice delayed.

But not denied.

That might logically be the concluding statement of some commentators remarking on what took place in an Albuquerque federal courtroom last Friday.

In a much-watched trial, U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez finally provided a notable legal ending to the long and sordid saga of an ex-Catholic priest standing before her. She sentenced Arthur Perrrault, now 81, to a 30-year prison term.

Perrault’s story and linked odyssey is lengthy and detailed.

Most of all, it is sad, involving the former cleric’s repeated abuse of a young altar boy in New Mexico during the 1990s. Although Perrault was convicted on criminal charges involving only that one adolescent, seven other individuals testified during trial that he similarly molested them. Perrault’s criminal behavior allegedly spanned decades.

As different as Perrault’s story is from other sexual abuse accounts in its details, it is simultaneously eerily similar to countless other abuse tales.

To wit: It is grounded in an adult’s manipulation of young and impressionable child victims. The ex-altar boy stated during trial that Perrault cunningly used his position of authority to elicit trust before engaging in sexual conduct. His actions included taking the boy on trips and “showering” him with gifts.

And there was this, too: Perrault was more than a priest during the 1990s. He was additionally a high-ranking military officer, serving as a colonel and chaplain at Kirkland Air Force Base.

Perrault fled the country in 1992, hiding in Morocco. He was found and extradited back to the U.S. in 2017.

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