A former Catholic priest who fled to the Philippines is back in North Dakota to face sexual abuse charges that he ran away from nearly 20 years ago. We have the latest on why he returned, why his bail is set so high, and how he has responded to the charges.
Fernando Laude Sayasaya, a former Catholic priest, has been extradited from the Philippines back to North America to face charges of sexual abuse from nearly two decades ago.
Sayasaya served as associate pastor at St. Mary’s Cathedral and Blessed Sacrament in Fargo, North Dakota.
Fleeing the United States
In August 1998, then-Father Sayasaya was relieved of his priestly duties in the Fargo Diocese. Two brothers had come forward with sexual abuse allegations. The allegations stemmed from visits the boys had made to Sayasaya’s home.
While the case was being investigated, Sayasaya returned home to the Philippians for what he said was a visit in December 1998. He never returned.
In 2002, Sayasaya was officially charged with two felony counts of gross sexual imposition, with each count bringing a maximum of 10 years of prison time. But the charges were no good unless Sayasaya could be brought to justice.
Bringing Sayasaya Back
In cases like this, the wheels of justice can move very slowly due to the red tape that can exist between countries.
Sayasaya was eventually caught by Philippine officials in November 2017.
After his capture, Sayasaya tried to delay his extradition by asserting that documents for his arrest and extradition had not been completed properly. A judge eventually concluded that there was no merit to these claims. So Sayasaya was brought back to North Dakota for prosecution.
Fernando Laude Sayasaya’s Plea & Bail
Sayasaya was brought to court in District Court East Central Judicial District in Cass County, North Dakota and for the time being, where he had pleaded not guilty to both charges.
In spite of the fact that Sayasaya fled the country, no further charges were added.
However, noting the defendant’s history of fleeing the country, the judge placed a $5.0-million bail condition on Sayasaya.
Fernando Laude Sayasaya’s next court appearance, a felony dispositional conference, is scheduled for April 18, 2018.