American priest wanted on child molestation charges in Arizona arrested in Italy

Italian police have arrested an American Roman Catholic priest wanted on child molestation charges in Arizona.

The Rev. Joseph Henn was arrested on a court order Saturday and is now under house arrest at the headquarters of his Salvatorian order, near St. Peter's Square, said attorney Michele Gentiloni Severj.

Henn's lawyer said that the Italian court will soon ask the priest if he will agree to extradition. If he accepts it, he will be sent to the United States quickly, the lawyer said, while a refusal would bring a longer extradition process, reports the AP.

Henn, the former priest of the Phoenix Diocese, was indicted in 2003 in Arizona. The suit accused the Rev. Joseph Henn of serially molesting an altar boy at St. Mark's Parish in Phoenix from 1976-79. The altar boy was 12 to 15 years old at the time. It also claimed that then-Bishop Thomas O'Brien endangered other children by transferring the priest out of state when he learned of the allegations. In April advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse pressed a religious order in Rome to send Henn back to the United States.

According to, sexual abuse isn't a crime exclusive to the Catholic Church. Based on reported cases, statistics reveal that one in every four girls and one in every six boys will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen. Thousands of children and adults suffer silently, never reporting the crime due to fear, shame and/or unfounded guilt. The silence of the church, as well as the abused, encourages abusers to become habitual rather than single incident predators.

In 2002 a great scandal involving pedophile priests shocked American society. Over 400 lawsuits were filed against priests in Boston, USA, the center of the scandal, and the total amount of criminal proceedings in America was counted in thousands.

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