Approximately 400 Claims Made Against Archdiocese of New Orleans
Approximately 400 claims have been made against the Archdiocese of New Orleans by survivors of sexual abuse seeking redress and justice through the Archdiocese’s bankruptcy process. We believe that this is but a small picture of the true scope of clergy abuse and cover-up within New Orleans. This bankruptcy case not only demonstrates a clear need for today's survivors to have other opportunities for prevention and justice through statutes of limitations reform but also points to the need to prevent bankruptcy laws from being used to hide clergy sex crimes and evade reparations to victims.
The number of claims is significant, but certainly low for a diocese the size of New Orleans. Numbers gleaned from secular investigations like that from 2018 in Pennsylvania would lead us to believe that there would likely be 700+ victims of the current priests known to have abused children in New Orleans. Ultimately, the fact is that the “bar date” has likely left many survivors out in the cold. We have no doubt that there are victims who have yet to come forward who will be frozen out of their attempts to seek redress from Catholic officials in New Orleans due to this pre-emptive bankruptcy filing. We know that delayed disclosure is normal in cases of childhood sexual abuse and most survivors do not come forward until decades after their abuse. The fact that there are multiple clergymen from New Orleans who have been arrested in the past two years demonstrates to us that the issue of sexual abuse within the Archdiocese is not solved and that today's victims will need a pathway to justice and healing when they are ready to come forward.
It is critical that legislators in Louisiana take up the issue of statute of limitations reform today so that future victims will not find the courtroom doors closed to them when they are ready to speak out. Arbitrary time limits only keep secrets hidden, allow abusers and enablers to escape justice, and leave children at risk of abuse. We hope that Louisiana legislators will learn more about the positives that come from reforming these archaic laws and provide pathways to prevention, justice, and healing for all survivors of abuse going forward.
We also hope that the federal government will take a closer look into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have used the bankruptcy courts to both hide information about abusers and their enablers and also to deny compensation to countless survivors who are not ready to speak out before the bankruptcy bar date closed. When victims are shut out of pursuing compensation from the institutions where they were harmed, the cost for their care falls to the public.
It seems to us a particularly egregious problem when the organizations that have caused the harm are able to both shield important information about perpetrators from the public and also pass the costs of the harm they caused onto the taxpayers. This is particularly true of those entities that are exempt from not only taxation but also from providing any public information about their finances. We hope that federal lawmakers will take a good look at this loophole and will also enact laws that better protect children and taxpayers going forward.
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)