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MCAO News Releases

Posted on: June 14, 2019

Former Priest Returned to Maricopa County to Face Charges 16 Years After Fleeing Country

PHOENIX— Joseph John Henn (D.O.B. 03/17/1949) appeared before a judge today for his arraignment hearing on multiple counts of child molestation, attempted child molestation, sexual conduct with a minor, and attempted sexual contact with a minor. It is alleged that Henn sexually abused at least three boys all under the age of 15 in the late 1970s to early 1980s while he served as a Father in the Salvatorian Order of the Catholic Church in Phoenix.

“Pursuing justice for crime victims is a constant source of motivation for law enforcement and prosecutors no matter how long it may take or how far we have to go,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “The recent arraignment of Joseph Henn illustrates our commitment to justice and further reflects the reality that neither position nor title will shield someone who harms children from accountability.”

Henn was originally indicted on charges back in 2003, but he fled to Italy to avoid prosecution. He was eventually arrested in Rome in 2005 after the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs requested his extradition on behalf of Maricopa County prosecutors. Henn was placed under house arrest at Salvatorian Order headquarters after his arrest, however despite an extradition decree issued by the Italian Ministry of Justice Henn was able to flee again to avoid extradition.

On May 29th, Italian law enforcement officials located Henn in Rome and took him into custody. Given the nature of Henn’s alleged crimes and his history of defying court orders, Deputy U.S. Marshals rushed to Rome and returned him to Arizona to face his charges.

“Child sexual abuse is a major issue in the United States and the world. The United States Marshals Service will always place a high priority on assisting federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies in locating and apprehending fugitive sex offenders,” said U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona David Gonzales.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office extends its gratitude on behalf of the victims in this case for the ceaseless efforts of the Italian authorities, the Carabinieri and Interpol NCB Rome, and the U.S. Marshals Service for their assistance.

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