Pastor Removed After Self-Reporting Himself as a Sexual Abuser and Another Priest Arrested on Obscenity Charges

A Louisiana pastor has been removed from his post after he reported himself to Catholic officials for sexually abusing a child in 2013. We call on Archdiocesan leaders in New Orleans to do immediate outreach so that parishioners are aware of the abuse and other victims are encouraged to come forward.

According to reports, Rev. Patrick Wattigny disclosed to Catholic officials in the Archdiocese of New Orleans that he had sexually abused a child in 2013. We are glad that Archbishop Gregory Aymond has already listed Fr. Wattigny on his list of accused priests. It is now incumbent on him to use all of the resources at his disposal to ensure his flock is aware of the allegation and so other survivors are encouraged to come forward to the police. Notably, this case is within the criminal statute of limitations in Louisiana and can still be prosecuted by law enforcement.

Making matters worse for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, another priest, Rev. Travis Clark, was arrested on charges of “obscenity with women.” By our count, this marks the 16th arrest of a Catholic staffer this year on abuse-related charges, further showing that the sexual abuse scandal is not a “thing of the past,” as church officials have claimed for years.

This news sends a clear message that parents, and parishioners, must remain vigilant when it comes to leaving children alone with adults and must also be watching out for signs of grooming or abuse. When communities are informed, abuse can be prevented, and we hope this news will encourage more people to learn about the realities of sexual violence and what role they can play in preventing future sex crimes.

CONTACT: Kevin Bourgeois, SNAP New Orleans (neworleans@snapnetwork.org, 504-376-5445), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org)

(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)


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