Another Abuser Arrested in New Orleans
Yet another Catholic staffer has been arrested in New Orleans on charges of child sexual abuse. We applaud the investigators for believing the victim and filing these charges and we hope that this news will encourage others who were hurt in New Orleans to come forward, find help, and start healing.
Virgil Maxey “V.M.” Wheeler III is a Catholic deacon from Metairie, LA, a suburb of New Orleans, where he was arrested on charges of abusing a pre-teen boy in the early 2000s. Prior to becoming a deacon, he worked as a prominent local attorney and volunteered for numerous other Church causes, likely giving him access to other vulnerable children. Given how abusers tend to flock to positions that provide them access to their victims, we suspect there may be other survivors that have yet to come forward.
Catholic officials in New Orleans have already suspended Deacon Wheeler from ministry, and now Archbishop Gregory Aymond should add his name to his list of accused clergy. The Deacon is currently an ordained cleric and previously spent time as an acolyte at a different parish, so he is someone who had access to children and could have abused others while acting as a Catholic clergyman or volunteer. The point of these lists is not to split hairs about titles but to inform parents and parishioners about perpetrators in their midst, and we feel that Deacon Wheeler certainly qualifies.
We hope that Catholic officials in New Orleans will take steps to add Deacon Wheeler to their list immediately and also to inform parishioners at every parish where he worked or volunteered about these charges. Finally, we encourage anyone who may have been hurt by the Deacon or any other Church staffer to find the strength to come forward and make a report to local police.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)