Accused Slidell priest Patrick Wattigny pleads not guilty to child molestation charge
Former Slidell priest and high school chaplain Patrick Wattigny pleaded not guilty Monday morning to a charge that he had molested a 15-year old boy in St. Tammany Parish.
Wattigny, 53, was formally charged last week with a count of molestation of a juvenile. He has been out on bail since October, after he was arrested at a home he owns in Georgia and extradited to St. Tammany Parish. He remains free on $150,000 bond.
Until resigning last year, he had been the pastor at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church and chaplain at Pope John Paul II High School, both in Slidell. He had held those posts since 2013.
Wattigny became the subject of an church investigation into improper text messages he sent to a student in 2020. During that investigation, Wattigny admitted sexually abusing a different teen in 2013 or 2014, officials have said. Archdiocese officials have said they immediately reported Wattigny to law enforcement authorities after learning of the earlier abuse.
In a statement last week, Archbishop Gregory Aymond said the Archdiocese is cooperating with law enforcement and will petition the Vatican for the laicization of both Wattigny and Travis Clark, another former north shore priest who is accused of institutional vandalism in an alleged tryst with dominatrices on the altar of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Pearl River.
The 22nd Judicial District Attorney's Office said Wattigny molested a 15-year old boy between June 1, 2013 and Aug. 31, 2014.
During a brief court appearance before state District Judge Vincent Lobello in Covington Monday, Wattigny's attorney, Robert Stern, entered the not guilty plea.
Outside the courtroom, Wattigny and Stern declined comment.