CA allows extradition of Filipino priest accused of sexual molestation in USBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals allowed the extradition of a former Filipino priest to the United States who is facing a case of sexually molesting two minors from 1995 to 1998.
In a 23-page decision, the appeals court’s first division through Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, denied the petition filed by Fernando Sayasaya, formerly assigned as a priest at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in West Fargo, North Dakota and/or at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo, North Dakota.
Sayasaya sought a reversal of the Dec. 28, 2010 decision of the Manila City Regional Trial Court who found probable cause to grant the petition for extradition filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) on behalf of the US government.
The US government sought Sayasaya’s extradition so that he can face the two counts of gross sexual imposition filed by brothers Hugo Zamarron and Pablo Zamarron before the District Court, East Central Judicial District, Cass Country, North Dakota.
The brothers alleged that Sayasaya engaged them in sexual contact in separate occasions at their residence and at the church.
In its ruling, the appeals court echoed the Manila Court’s finding that the affidavit of detective Grey Clayton Warren of the Police Department of West Fargo, North Dakota, who interviewed the minor victims that described in detail the illegal acts committed by the priest is credible.
“This Court gives respect and credence to the foregoing factual findings, which are amply supported by the evidence on record,” the appeals court said adding that the Philippine government “has an obligation to ensure that crimes would not go unpunished.”
“Suppression of crimes is the concern not only of the state where it is committed but also of any other state to which the criminal may have escaped,” the appeals court said.
“On this score, we cannot allow our country to be a haven for fugitives, cowards, and weaklings who, instead of facing the consequences of their actions, choose to run and hide,” it added.
Sayasaya was placed on administrative leave by the Catholic Church in August 1998 following the allegations of the brothers and was sent to the Blue Cloud abbey in South Dakota.
In December 1998, Sayasaya asked permission from the church to leave the United States to go back to his homeland in the Philippines for Christmas, saying he would return January 1999. However, since 1999, he refused to return to the US.
Appeals Court Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr., and Associate Justice Sesinando Villon concurred in the decision.