George Brignac, disgraced former New Orleans deacon, indicted on child rape charge
An Orleans Parish grand jury on Thursday handed up a charge of child rape against George Brignac, a former Roman Catholic deacon who was removed from ministry decades ago amid multiple molestation accusations but still remained involved in a local church parish until last year.
Brignac, 84, faces a count of first-degree rape in the newest bid from prosecutors to convict a man who decades ago beat similar allegations.
Thursday’s indictment came more than two months after New Orleans police arrested Brignac on a warrant accusing him of multiple acts of abuse, including raping an altar boy he met while teaching at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in the late 1970s.
He is the first clergyman in the area to be indicted since the church’s child molestation crisis boiled over last year, when Brignac and dozens of others were included on a list that New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond issued of clergy suspected of preying on minors.
Brignac posted a $40,000 bond for his release from jail shortly after his arrest in September. On Thursday, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman issued a warrant calling for Brignac to be rearrested and to be held without bail pending a hearing once the case is assigned to a presiding judge.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office requested that the bail be increased to $1 million.
Assistant District Attorney Alicia Bennette said in court Thursday that grand jurors, in secret proceedings, had heard from several witnesses who were prepared to testify that the former deacon assaulted them when they were children. She argued that Brignac is a "tremendous" flight risk because he faces mandatory life imprisonment if convicted of first-degree rape.
Victims' advocates issued a statement Thursday thanking prosecutors.
"Today is a long-awaited day of justice," Kevin Bourgeois, director of the New Orleans chapter of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statem...