Ex-New Orleans priest accused of molestation surrenders law license after lying about past

Patrick Sanders insists he is innocent, saying, “I feel an injustice has been done to me and my life’s vocation has been taken away.”

NEW ORLEANS — A former New Orleans-area priest who was removed from the ministry over credible allegations of child sex abuse before becoming a successful personal injury attorney recently surrendered his law license forever because he hid his scandalous past from bar exam administrators.

According to documents filed with the Louisiana Supreme Court, which metes out discipline to attorneys in the state, Patrick Sanders signed up to take the bar exam in 2007 and 2009. Both times, the application asked, in various forms, whether he had ever been forced out of a job, disciplined for misbehavior or simply accused of misconduct.

Sanders answered “no” each time, even though Catholic Church leaders in New Orleans had stripped him of his position as the pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in 2005.

That move resulted from allegations that Sanders had sexually abused two 16-year-old boys on a church trip to Biloxi in 1993, three years after his ordination, while he was the assistant pastor at Resurrection of Our Lord in New Orleans East during a previous assignment.

Sanders’ sacking got little attention at the time. But in November 2018, the Archdiocese of New Orleans included Sanders in a list of dozens of local priests and deacons who had been faced with credible accusations of child molestation. The a roster was released as the church sought to manage fallout from its decades-old clergy sex abuse scandal.

The state Supreme Court’s disciplinary office eventually learned about Sanders’ inclusion on the archdiocesan list. An ensuing investigation revealed Sanders’ untrue answers on the bar exam applications he filled out before securing his law license in 2009, and last year disciplinary officials filed several charges of professional misconduct against him as a result.

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