PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A former Phoenix priest who escaped house arrest 13 years ago while awaiting trial on charges of molesting three boys is behind bars in the Valley.

Joseph Henn, now 70, was arraigned Friday.

[WATCH: Former priest accused of molesting boys back in jail in Arizona]

He worked at St. Mark's Catholic School in central Phoenix from 1978 to 1982.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office indicted him on 13 felony charges in 2003, but said "he fled to Italy to avoid prosecution," spokeswoman Amanda Steele said. 

Henn was arrested in Rome in 2005 after the Department of Justice requested his extradition on behalf of Maricopa County.

"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[, he] was able to flee again to avoid extradition," Steele explained in a statement.

That was 13 years ago.

Italian police picked up Henn allegedly trying to use an expired passport a little more than two weeks ago on May 29, 2019.

U. S. Marshals worked with the Justice Department to go to Rome and bring Henn back here to Phoenix to face justice.

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Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said this case has always been on his radar.

"It doesn't matter who you are. It doesn't matter what position you are in. It doesn't matter what title you have. If you harm a child here in this county, we will hold you accountable, even if it takes us 13 years, you will face justice," Montgomery said.

Henn is now being held on a cash-only bond of $100,000 on 13 felony charges.

The Phoenix Catholic Diocese released the following statement:

The Diocese of Phoenix is pleased to learn that authorities have located and apprehended former Salvatorian priest Joseph Henn in Italy. We support the efforts of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to extradite Henn and return him to the United States in order to face the criminal charges against him.

Henn was assigned by the Salvatorian order to serve at St. Mark Parish in Phoenix from 1978 to 1982. He was indicted on sexual abuse charges in 2003 and arrested in Italy in 2005, but disappeared before he could be extradited to the United States to stand trial. Henn is identified on our website as a priest who has been removed from ministry due to sexual misconduct with a minor: https://dphx.org/youth-protection/community-notification-statements

The Diocese of Phoenix is committed to providing a safe environment where it values and honors every individual as created in the image and likeness of God. Great efforts have been made to put systems into place to keep our young people safe, and we will continue to work in close cooperation with law enforcement to uphold the principles of accountability and justice.

We urge anyone who knows of or has been a victim of abuse to contact law enforcement. Additionally, the Diocese of Phoenix provides support services through its Office of Child and Youth Protection at 602-354-2396 or at dphx.org/youth-protection.

We ask for your continued prayers for Christ's healing.

Valley victims' advocates say they are encouraged by Henn's arrest and extradition. They believe these developments in the case will give hope to survivors about the community's commitment to hold pedophile priests accountable.

 


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