SNAP Louisiana Calls for Reform Now
In recent days we have learned about the lack of transparency and lack of thoroughness by the Archbishop of New Orleans when dealing with the wholesale sexual abuse and exploitation of our precious children. We have also learned that the official list of credibly accused priests should be expanded. This is why we have gathered here today.
Why wasn’t Monsignor Bezou included on the original list of credible abusers? In a recent article in the Times Picayune/nola.com/The Advocate, Archbishop Aymond said the following:
“That’s what my ministry is about — to bring these things to the light so people aren’t abused.”
Then why, as documented over the past year, is it only the courageous survivors and the media that has shed the light on this abuse? When has Archbishop Gregory Aymond ever revealed anything new in these cases? His proclaimed ministry fails in this regard. In addition to the list that he provided, why is it that Archbishop Aymond did not include Monsignor Bezou in his list?
Father Francis M. Landwermeyer who was listed by the Jesuits as a ‘credibly accused’ cleric in 2018. He worked in Tampa FL, Milwaukee WI, Biloxi MS, Charleston Heights SC, Saginaw MI, Columbia SC, San Antonio TX, Dallas TX, and two Louisiana cities (Shreveport and New Orleans). He reportedly molested children in the 1960s and 1970s. My abuser, Cornelius Carr was a Jesuit on both the Archdiocese and Jesuit list. Why not Landwermeyer?
Father Freddy Washington was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost. In 2017, he was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing two boys while he was at a Charleston, South Carolina Catholic church between approximately 1982 and 1984. As recently as 2017, he was listed as an associate professor of pastoral theology at Xavier University in New Orleans.
Throughout the United States, the Attorney Generals, State and Local law enforcement agencies have taken action. The Attorney General in Pennsylvania stands with us, but is frustrated by the statute of limitations that prevents him from prosecuting these cases. The Attorney General in Michigan has headed up an investigation of every diocese and archdiocese in the state, and served warrants for information, and arrests and cases resulted. In Texas, local law enforcement in the Houston Archdiocese and Dallas Diocese areas have been serve warrants to get all the secluded documentation. Progress is being made, but by survivors, the media, and public officials who actually care about the safety and sanctity of our own children.
Today, we are asking for a renewed interest by the Attorney General in Louisiana. In the past, he has publicly stated that there is little that he can do because of the peculiarities of Louisiana State Law. We understand that because of the antiquated Napoleonic Law Code in Louisiana, that he may feel that his hands are tied - but the nation is watching. In his stated limited capability, he could certainly establish a survivor hotline, as many Attorney Generals have done, and to forward those official complaints to the local jurisdictions for action.
In Louisiana, there is a real problem with our highest levels of trusted prosecutors, when in Acadiana, a District Attorney stated on public television that he “does not need to do an investigation because the Catholic Church has already done their investigation.” We appeal to the New Orleans District Attorney, Leon Cannizarro, to make use of his office’s resources to investigate the New Orleans Archdiocese. We also look to the Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, to utilize the dedication and expertise of the New Orleans Police Department as needed.
Also in that spirit, we are now asking the Louisiana State Police to initiate a state-wide investigation of the Catholic Church, as other State Police departments have done before. The scope of their investigation should be limitless, as it is relevant to the safety and sanctity of our own children, and that of the victims and survivors who have suffered for decades.
Finally, there is a real need for “Statute of Limitations” reform in Louisiana, as it pertains to both the survivors from decades of abuse before, as well as the protection of our precious children going forward. We need new state legislative windows to accommodate the most horrific abuse of those who are still with us, and the prolonging legislation to ensure that this will not happen again, much less continue.
(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)