SNAP Applauds NOLA District Attorney Investigating Further Into Notorious Abusive Priest
(For Immediate Release June 16, 2023)
New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams announced yesterday that his office is investigating Catholic priest Lawrence Hecker. We are grateful to DA Williams for his efforts and hope that they will result in a successful prosecution of Fr. Hecker. Children are always safer when their abusers are behind bars.
Fr. Hecker is on the list of those clergy in the Archdiocese of New Orleans who are alive, who have been accused of sexually abusing a child, and who have been removed from ministry on the basis of those "credible" accusations. The list, released in November of 2018, was the first time that the priest was publicly acknowledged by his supervisors as a perpetrator. He is also on the Diocese of Baton Rouge's list.
The Archdiocesan website claimed that the first accusation against Fr. Hecker was received by it in 1996, and went on to say that the cleric was accused of assaulting children in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Sadly, yet consistent with the Catholic bishops’ playbook for dealing with child sexual abuse, Fr. Hecker remained on the job until 2002.
Moreover, according to victim attorney Richard Trahant, the Archdiocese actually knew about Fr. Hecker's abuse in the 1980s but did nothing until 2002. That year the Boston Globe exposed the cover-up of clergy sex crimes in the Archdiocese of Boston and the Catholic bishops in the United States responded to this by adopting the Dallas charter. Fr. Hecker, like many others across the country who were finally removed from ministry in 2002, was permitted to quietly retire, where he drew a pension and resided in Archdiocesan housing. However, as noted above, the Archdiocese did not publicly disclose the reason behind this "retirement" until 2018.
Mr. Trahant and DA Williams also asked Federal Bankruptcy Judge Jane Milazzo on Thursday to unseal a deposition given by Fr. Hecker. The Archdiocesan attorneys adamantly opposed this motion. We hope that the Judge will ultimately unseal the deposition, and all of the other records in this case. We do not believe that bankruptcy courts should be used to conceal evidence of child sex crimes and the cover-up of those crimes by institutions.
We applaud Mr. Trahant and District Attorney Williams for standing on the side of those who received life-long injuries from clergy sex crimes, and for demanding that the sealed information be made public. The only way to protect children in the future is by knowing what happened in the past and holding the Catholic Church accountable. Fr. Hecker had unfettered access to children for decades, and it is long past time to learn the truth about when the Archdiocese first knew of his crimes.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)