Biliran province in the Philippines. Photo: Google Maps

An American priest accused of abusing more than 50 children in the eastern island province of Biliran has been formally charged after more of his alleged victims were emboldened by his arrest to came forward. He is facing deportation to the US on similar charges.

Kenneth Hendricks, 77, had been held at the Bureau of Immigration detention cell at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City since his arrest at the Cathedral of Our Lady Rosary in Naval on December 5, but was taken into custody by the police Special Operations Unit on Tuesday.

Resident in the Philippines since 1968, Hendricks was originally detained after a US judge issued a warrant for his arrest for “engaging in illicit sex with a minor in a foreign country”. Five new warrants issued by the Biliran Regional Trial Cour, alleging acts of lasciviousness, were served by Metro Manila police chief Guillermo Eleazar.

Ordained as a Franciscan priest, the American lived in the town of Naval and is accused of having abused children as young as seven, Philippine Lifestyle News reported. Many of the children only had the courage to come forward after learning that he had been arrested, as Hendricks had warned them they would be sent to jail if they told anyone.

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