NFL’s Saints Commit an Egregious Personal Foul by Interfering With Clergy Abuse Investigation

The New Orleans Saints, an NFL Football team, are for some reason involved with doing damage control for the beleaguered Archdiocese of New Orleans. Making matters worse, team executives are going to court to prevent the public from being aware of their intervention.

SNAP’s New Orleans Volunteer Leader, Kevin Bourgeois, said the following in response to this news:

As a former litigant against the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Archbishop Gregory Aymond, I was personally re-victimized by their lawyers’ aggressive and bullying tactics. In my experience, their priority is to blame the victim and hide the secret archives from their congregants. My experience also shows me why the Saints are fighting so hard against making their conversations with Catholic officials public: I suspect that they know these conversations will show victim-blaming, bad-faith negotiating, and contempt for survivors.

In my case, once my accusations were found "credible" by the Archdiocese, they wanted to mediate a “hush hush” private settlement. New Orleans church officials insisted that the settlement and the details of my abuse were to  remain confidential, a clear and direct violation of the church’s “Dallas Charter” from 2002. I was still in trauma and agreed to this arrangement, but several months later, I was made aware of the reality of what-now Judge Wendy Vitter (who was the lead counsel for the Archdiocese) forced me to do: shut up, take the money, and go away.

With tremendous support locally, personally, and from the SNAP Network, I chose to fight back and make my story public. This enabled me to heal and to go on to help other victims to become survivors.

Now, the relationship between Gayle Benson, the New Orleans Saints and the Archdiocese of New Orleans is officially public. One of the attorneys stated that the plaintiffs were trying to perform a "witch-hunt" against their client, George Brignac, one of the most notorious abusers in Louisiana history.

The arrangement that the Saints and Archbishop Aymond have made is the opposite of the transparency that Catholic leaders so often promise. Rather than caring about survivors and the protection of children, Archbishop Aymond cares more about prestige. His priority has been his seat next to Gayle Benson in her suite at the Superdome and for her to be on his arm at million dollar fundraisers for his backyard and legacy.

The Saints, too, have chosen to protect an institution instead of protecting children. This is an embarrassing move from a team that has no business being involved in this situation in the first place. It is disappointing to me that my hometown team would rather protect secrets instead of protecting children.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

CONTACT: Kevin Bourgeois, SNAP New Orleans (neworleans@snapnetwork.org, 504-376-5445), Zach Hiner, 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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