Priest Who Fled to Italy Will Be Extradited

The Arizona Republic
July 29, 2006

A Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting three boys in Phoenix more than 25 years ago will be returned to Arizona to face charges.

The Rev. Joseph Henn had been living at the Salvatorian order's headquarters in Italy. The Italian high court ordered his extradition to Arizona on Thursday, according to the Catholic News Service. He should return to Arizona within 45 days.

A Maricopa County grand jury indicted Henn in 2003 on 13 counts related to child molestation. He was arrested in Rome in July 2005 and has been fighting extradition ever since.

If convicted, he would likely spend the rest of his life in prison, according to previous reports.

The Diocese of Phoenix could not be reached for comment.

Mike Haran, an attorney for the diocese, told The Republic in July 2005: "Anything that would move Father Henn closer to coming back to Phoenix is a step in the right direction. Having him come back in the long term would assist everybody in healing."

The allegations against the priest involve three men who say they were victimized in 1979 and 1980 when they were boys, all younger than 15. One man filed a civil suit in 2003 accusing Henn of molesting him while he was an altar boy at St. Mark's Parish in east Phoenix.

In all, Henn faces nine counts of child molestation, one count of attempted sexual conduct with a minor, one count of attempted child molestation and one count of sexual conduct with a minor.

Henn is not the only former Valley priest who has fled the country to escape charges.

In January, a Catholic priest who had disappeared into Mexico after he was indicted on suspicion of sex crimes waived extradition and was flown back to Phoenix to face charges.

Joseph Briceno is accused of abusing two minors, a young man and his sister, in the 1980s while he was a priest at St. Mary's Church in Chandler. He was indicted on eight felony counts in 2003 and then disappeared.

A third priest, the Rev. Patrick Colleary, also accused of sex crimes, remains out of the country.

Colleary, formerly of Scottsdale, faces two felony counts of sexual conduct with a minor in Maricopa County. He lives in his native Ireland, where extradition proceedings failed.

Republic reporter Carrie Watters and the Catholic News Services contributed to this article.


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