A Catholic priest accused of attempting to lure a girl into his car has been arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving on a flight from Australia.
US authorities allege Michael T. Patrick, 57, drove alongside the 14-year-old girl and attempted to persuade her to get into his car as she walked home from school in Vancouver, Oregon about 5.30pm on March 10.
“Come on, cutie,” the priest told the girl after she repeatedly refused his requests, police said.
The girl ran to a daycare centre and phoned her mother, police were called and the victim described the driver as “heavyset with a dark complexion, dark hair and facial hair on his sideburns and chin”.
The girl also remembered the vehicle’s number plate.
When a police officer questioned Patrick, who confirmed he was a priest from the St Wenceslaus parish in Oregon, tears formed in his eyes, although he denied any sort of contact with a female pedestrian, police allege.
On March 25 when officers served a search warrant at Patrick’s home neighbours told them he had taken a trip to Australia to visit his sister.
An arrest warrant was issued and when Patrick arrived in LA on April 2 he was arrested and is being held in the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, north of LA, ahead of a court appearance on Friday.
The Portland Archdiocese announced in a statement Patrick “will be suspended from his ministry functions until the matter is concluded, even though the criminal charge had nothing to do with his parish assignment in Scappoose, Oregon”.