New Orleans Catholic Priest Accused of Sexually and Physically Abusing a Ten-Year-Old Boy, SNAP Calls for his Return to the US
A priest accused of raping a ten-year-old child in 2008 has been suspended from ministry in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. We call on Catholic officials to bring the priest back from his extended visit abroad so that he can face justice here in the United States and to use every resource at their disposal to encourage other victims to come forward, make a report, and start healing.
Fr. John Asare-Dankwah allegedly raped and later physically abused the boy while he was hearing confession during an out-of-state retreat. We fully support this gentleman and applaud his courage to come forward publicly. We are also grateful he has reached out to our local SNAP group for support. The average age for abuse survivors to disclose abuse is 52, but this man is significantly younger than the national average. It takes real courage to come forward and we hope that this story will encourage others who may have been hurt by Fr. Asare-Dankwah to speak out and make a report to the police.
Currently, Fr. Asare-Dankwah is out of the country, visiting family in Ghana. We are concerned because many priests – such as Fr. Alex Castillo in the Diocese of Oakland, CA – who have been accused of sexual abuse have been able to flee from justice by leaving the United States. Some of them were even allowed to work as priests abroad despite Catholic officials knowing about their criminal tendencies.
We are encouraged that Fr. Asare-Dankwah was immediately suspended from his position when Archdiocesan leaders learned of the allegations against him and we are also glad that the accusations were immediately reported to police. Now that those steps have been taken, we hope that Catholic officials in New Orleans will use every resource at their disposal to recall Fr. Asare-Dankwah to the US and ensure that he will be present for all investigations as well as for the civil court proceedings.
After recalling Fr. Asare-Dankwah, the Archdiocese of New Orleans should ensure that these allegations are circulated among every parish where the accused priest worked or spent time. This is important so that other victims can learn they are not alone and be encouraged to come forward to make a report to the police. Finally, in the interest of transparency and child protection, Fr. Asare-Dankwah’s name should be added to the list of accused clergy within the Archdiocese.
Anyone who was abused by a cleric from the Archdiocese of New Orleans has exactly 32 days to file a claim with the Federal Bankruptcy Court. After March 1, 2021, at 5:00 pm, if you were abused before May 1, 2020, there will be no legal recourse. We encourage anyone who was hurt by clergy, nuns, or other staffers of the Archdiocese to learn more about their options through bankruptcy court. SNAP leadership in New Orleans is available to help survivors navigate the claims process and understand their options.
(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)