AN AMERICAN civil lawyer was in the country for a week to gather more pieces of evidence and testimonies for an "airtight" case against the 77-year-old American "pedophile" priest arrested in Naval, Biliran.
Mc Donald Worley, who flew from Houston, Texas to the Philippines for the first time, said he talked to the parents, victims, and other individuals who could bring out more information about the alleged sexual abuses done by Fr. Kenneth Hendricks.
Hendricks was assigned in Naval for over 40 years before he was nabbed by local police and US Homeland Security on December 5, 2018.
"I handle this kind of case in the US as well. In the civil case, we are talking about the compensation, how much they're going to pay to the victims," said Worley, who is representing nine victims, ages 7 to 25.
Various media reports said that Hendricks allegedly molested over 50 males, mostly during their teens.
"I know this kind of case is very embarrassing. It takes bravery to come out and say, 'This happened to me,'" the lawyer told reporters in Tacloban City on March 20.
While the victims have kept their identities, Worley also called on others to come forward and speak what they know so that this kind of issue among priests will stop.
He said the Church has a "system failure" because it failed to stop sexual abuses committed by a priest.
"They know something is going on and they do nothing about it," he said.
Meanwhile, the lawyer clarified that his arrival in the Philippines has nothing to do with the criminal case pursued by the government against Hendricks.
"My understanding is they (Philippines authorities) are making an investigation," said Worley, adding they will file a civil case against the priest in the Catholic Church in Ohio, USA where Hendricks came from.
In a separate statement, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in Ohio said that Hendricks "is not, nor has ever been, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati."
"To the best of our knowledge, he was ordained to the priesthood in the Philippines to serve in the diocese of Naval. He has never had any assignment with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Although not a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Fr. Hendricks is listed on our website as a Catholic missionary serving in Asia," it added.
According to the archdiocese, Hendricks "is one of around 75 missionaries from Southwest Ohio who receive some financial support from the Mission Office of the Archdiocese."
"None of these individuals work for, or take direction from, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati," it said. (SunStar Philippines)