PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - We are hearing for the first time from a Phoenix man who says he was sexually abused by a former priest who was just extradited to the Valley to face charges after more than a decade on the run.

[WATCH: County attorney says going after fugitive priest is personal]

Now a high school teacher, he asked us to protect his identity as he prepares to testify at trial.

"I'm not showing my face because not everybody can deal with that, and there are gonna be people who say, 'Hey, watch out for this guy,'" he said.

[RELATED: Accused pedophile former priest behind bars in Phoenix 16 years after fleeing U.S.]

He says former father Joseph Henn sexually abused him when he was an altar boy at St. Mark's in the late '70s and early '80s.

"No one, not one, even to today, these many years afterwards (sic), no one from the church has come to interview me or ask, 'What happened?'" he said. "They don't wanna know!"

[WATCH: Phoenix man comes forward and says he was sexually abused by priest as altar boy]

There's been a lot of talk lately about the new Arizona law extending the statute of limitations for victims of child sex crimes, who now have until December 2020 to sue their abusers and the institution.

This is a criminal case that's simply been waiting to go to trial since Henn skipped town 16 years ago, then escaped house arrest before being rearrested in Italy on May 28.

[READ MORE: Survivors of child sex assault given more time to sue]

"The saddest part of this whole story is how the church- pushed me aside," the man said.

"I wanted healing and peace. The church did not come at me like that. They pushed me around a settlement and that's what they were more worried about than the healing," he said.

He says the former father was like a brother who stepped in to take him to all his baseball games, movies, even Disneyland.

He says the abuse started on a camping trip when his sleeping bag somehow went missing. He says, Father Joe, had him share his.

"This was my first sex experience. I just froze," the man said.

Henn worked at St. Mark's from 1978 to '82 teaching, of all things, sex-ed.

"This priest, and I'm assuming the others, followed the same model, to get the kids at the same age when they're going through their puberty," the man said.

He says Henn molested him repeatedly from fifth to seventh grade.

"Got me during that age when I was kind of understanding my own sexuality," the man said.

He says there were showers and massages and he knew he wasn't the only one.

"Another victim told me another priest approached him and said, 'Hey, I hear you give good back massages,'" the man said.

When the first boy came forward early on, he buried those memories and says he didn't tell a soul.

"I shut it down. I'm like, 'I'm done. I'm not talking about this, nope,'" the man said.

That is until a near-death car crash in 1991 jolted those memories loose.

"This was in my mind back there and I had to deal with it," the man said.

He says when he went to the church for help, they reported not to police, but up their chain of command, to the Phoenix Catholic Diocese that he says, rushed him to settle out of court.

"I feel more abandoned from them and how they treated this than by what Father Joe had done to me. The others who protected him and let it go, they're almost as guilty as he is," he said.

He still remembers the face-to-face sit-down he had with Father Joe before he signed.

"I did ask him about other victims. He said I was the only one and I knew that was a lie!" the man said.

"They shut me down right away," he added.

"The head priest of the (Salvatorian) Order stepped in and said, "He's not that far along in his therapy, so let's talk about that later,'" the man said.

Tom Maleady used to teach at St. Mark's with Henn.

[RELATED: Vatican tightens laws on sexual abuse of minors]

"Breaks my heart and if I saw some of them right now, I'm 81, but I might kick some arse! Doesn't do any good, but it would dissuade something to help me heal a little bit," Maleady said.

He says the breach of trust makes him sick to his stomach and disappointed in the church.

"It makes me feel bad, terrible, awful! Something has to be done!" Maleady said.

What is justice for someone accused of these crimes?

"Life in prison, no possibility of parole! You messed a number of lives, and now you're gonna get what's coming to you," Maleady said.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says this case was always 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 in this county, we will hold you accountable," Montgomery said.

He's proud of his team's commitment to the case. Many of them worked the original yearlong investigation into the Phoenix Diocese back in 2003.

"At one point, he was in custody!" Montgomery said of Henn, who was under house arrest in 2006 at the headquarters of his religious order in the Vatican.

The church would not compel him to return to the states to face charges.

He reportedly escaped when the Italian high court upheld Maricopa County's extradition order for 13 felony charges, accusing Henn of sexually abusing three young boys.

And they honored that when he was arrested three weeks ago, now 70 years old, trying to use an expired passport in Italy.

The Phoenix Diocese says Henn was removed from ministry for sexual misconduct with a minor.

They released this statement saying in part:

"Great efforts have been made to put systems in place to keep our young people safe and we will work with law enforcement to uphold the principles of accountability and justice."

Last month's national conference of Catholic bishops in Baltimore setup a new abuse reporting system encouraging, but not requiring church leaders to work with law enforcement.

[RELATED: Catholics and Diocese of Phoenix respond after Pennsylvania priest abuse report released]

Mary O'Day is a Valley survivor who runs the local support group for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

"It's an abuse of power, another cop-out" she said.

She hopes Arizona's new statute of limitations expansion will encourage more survivors to seek justice.

"Survivors don't know that there are others out there who went through the same thing," O'Day said.

"They're afraid to share their story. They're afraid to come forward and then they don't get the help and the healing they need," she added.

SNAP is asking Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to join 20 other attorney generals in launching a new statewide investigation, saying the Catholic Church cannot be trusted to self-report, given their history of non-disclosure agreements and systemic coverup.

[PDF: SNAP: Arizona and Sexual Abuse by Catholic Clergy]

"Don't talk, don't use your voice, don't let anybody know this happened and we'll give you money," she said.

Henn's accuser says more than anger, he feels sorry for him.

"My prayers still go out to this priest," the man said. "He abused me, and I feel sorry for him!"

"Just to be living with the guilt and all the stuff he's done, it would be so much easier to just come out and say, 'Please forgive me,'" the man added.

Desperate for healing, he found peace, in forgiveness and is looking forward to closure in justice.

"I'm not the judge or jury; God is," the man said.

"He has to face his consequences. If he'd stop running around, hiding, and just said he's sorry to everybody he's hurt and moved on, whatever happens, happens, that's the way it should be. The church, they're afraid of that," the man said.

Maricopa County prosecutor Rachel Mitchell filed the original case against Henn 16 years ago, so imagine this man's surprise, when he got a personal text from her, saying there'd finally been an arrest after all these years.

One more fugitive priest still on the run

There is one more priest indicted around the same time as Henn who is still on the run.

Father Patrick Colleary has been on the run for 16 years and getting him back here to face justice is personal.

"We know he's in Ireland. My mother's family goes back to Ireland, so I'm Irish myself. I want him!" Montgomery said.

Montgomery is now the third Maricopa County Attorney going after fugitive Colleary.

He hopes to be the last.

Colleary was an associate pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Hope in Scottsdale before he left town for his home country in 2003. It was right before he was indicted and accused of molesting an altar boy at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Tempe back in 1978.

A yearlong investigation of the Phoenix Diocese dredged up two decades of sex abuse allegations against him involving boys and young women.

[PDF: Fact Sheet about child abuse]

Accused of rape, Colleary confessed to fathering a child, but only after a positive blood test proved it.

Our CBS 5 Investigates reporter Morgan Lowe even flew to Ireland to try and track him down in 2003.

[RELATED: Former Arizona priest says he was forced to choose between his religion, law]

While the Diocese removed Colleary from ministry and withdrew his faculties in 2002, the Irish courts refused to extradite, worried Colleary wouldn't get a fair trial, citing concerns over the infamous antics of our then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio who paraded inmates around in pink underwear.

With the recent arrest of Henn in Italy and the high court there upholding our local extradition order from the state department, Montgomery's hopeful the courts and his counterparts in Ireland will be more willing to help U.S. Marshalls track down this accused pedophile priest who's escaped justice all these years.

"So I would ask my kin to send him back and have him face justice instead of enabling an abuser to live abroad in a country that has struggled with its own history of abuse," Montgomery said.

A lot has changed, not only is there a new sheriff in town, the #MeToo movement's changed the conversation for victims coming forward and the expectations of people in power to hold abusers and the institutions that protected them accountable.

The Phoenix Diocese set up a new website encouraging people to report to the police and the church any allegations of sex abuse.

[RELATED: Phoenix Diocese still trying to right the wrongs of decades of coverup]

A law firm in Minnesota recently released a report compiling the names of more than 100 credibly accused pedophile priests who worked in Arizona since the '50s, encouraging victims to reach out as they now have until December of 2020 to file civil suits against their abusers and the institutions.

[RELATED: 400 Catholic churches ordered to provide information on possible sexual assaults]

Montgomery says they are ready to take Henn to trial and as in any criminal case, want to hear from any victims who haven't come forward, encouraging them to contact his office for counseling and other resources

Nicole Crites anchors 3TV's Good Evening Arizona weekdays. Nicole also digs deep into issues affecting Arizonans.  You'll see her reports on 3TV News at 9 p.m.
 
 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(10) comments

ObeyLaws

Thank god I'm an Atheist. (A sentiment you might want to share with your children...)

Wazoolie

Gee....how shocking ....apriest abusing alter boys? Join the other thousands buddy.

MyOwnMind

Massive sexual abuse of children and people still support this "church". unbelievable.

Shredder

I have to believe that if the priesthood didn't require celibacy, there would be fewer of these altar boy sexual abuse issues. Of course not all the deviant behavior would disappear but I think much of it would. I just don't see how it's possible that only pedophiles are drawn to become priests.

MyOwnMind

Of course. typical idiot. Provide an excuse for their behavior.

JustinP

That's not what shredder said. I think the point is, a married man is getting their kicks elsewhere and not on the job. A non married one that is committed to being against opposite gender relationships may very well be predisposed to their own gender. Hence....

ObeyLaws

Nice job of mediating JustinPicposting. You're all winners! Hugs for everyone! Just curious - are you clergy?? You reek of it...

Robs

E was sexually abused as an alture man also.[scared]

NothingToSeeHere

It’s not the victims fault but all the Catholic followers (brainwashed sheep) make them feel like it is for not fully forgiving the deviant. They place these priests “next to god”, or on the same level, yet let them get away with vile acts because they’re then conveniently “only human”. They should be publicly humiliated and then executed.

Robs

E was abused as an alter man also . [scared]

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