Anniversary of credibly accused clergy list in New Orleans brings lawsuits, calls for investigations

When the Archdiocese of New Orleans published a list one year ago of priests and deacons who had been credibly accused of molesting children, it started a one-year clock for lawsuits by people claiming that seeing the list had rekindled memories of their abuse at the hands of Catholic clergymen.

The looming arrival of that deadline on Monday of this week prompted the filing of several clergy-abuse lawsuits in recent days at Orleans Parish Civil District Court, where the list of such cases has been steadily growing since the church’s decades-old molestation crisis reignited more than a year ago.

Meanwhile, advocates with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests marked the grim anniversary by renewing calls for authorities to investigate and prosecute still-living priests who may have committed crimes — as well as high church officials who passed up earlier opportunities to identify them.

The group also asked Louisiana legislators to change laws that limit how long survivors have to seek compensation in the courts and how much time authorities have to criminally charge abusers, as other states have done.

“Such reforms would keep children and communities safer, and institutions that have hidden or recycled known perpetrators would have a strong incentive to change their behavior,” according to a statement from national SNAP President Tim Lennon, state leader Richard Windmann and local leader Kevin Bourgeois, all of whom have spoken publicly about their experiences with abusive clergy.

An archdiocesan spokeswoman issued a statement Tuesday saying that church leaders’ goal was to “walk with victims toward healing” and maintain a program of safeguards meant to prevent new cases of abuse.

“We will continue to address the civil cases against us to the best of our ability with a priority of not re-victimizing or causing further harm to those who choose to come forward,” the statement said. The spokeswoman left open the possibility of ad...

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