SNAP Urges the FBI to Launch a Federal Investigation into the Archdiocese of New Orleans
Two days ago, Archbishop Gregory Aymond named a deceased priest, Rev. Robert Cooper, as the 73rd cleric on his ever-growing list of clergymen accused of molesting children. The Archbishop also suspended Fr. J. Luis Fernandez and Fr. Joseph deWater from ministry pending further investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse.
We find it troubling that as a young priest in the mid-1970s Archbishop Aymond worked with both Fr. Cooper and Fr. Fernandez at St. John Vianney Preparatory School. Five additional perpetrators are known to us to have been employed at the school during the Archbishop’s tenure: Fr. Carl Davidson, Fr. Lawrence Hecker, Fr. Daniel Poche, Fr. Paul Calamari, and Deacon George Brignac.
New Orleans SNAP Leader Kevin Bourgeois says, “Forty years later, one has to ask, how did seven sexual abusers come to be employed at New Orleans area school for Catholic boys who were open to the priesthood?”
SNAP believes that the answer to that question and the best justice that the New Orleans faithful can hope for lies with a secular law enforcement investigation. Unfortunately, so far the local district attorney and the Louisiana Attorney General have declined to act. By filing for Federal bankruptcy protection, all civil discovery in dozens of abuse cases in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court was sealed. SNAP New Orleans sent a letter to the Vatican on October 2nd, asking it to investigate the Archdiocese and to review the secret archives of abusive clergy, brothers, and nuns in the Archdiocese. We are still waiting for a response.
However, we know from survivors that priests and deacons took boys across Louisiana’s borders to sexually abuse them, which are federal crimes, some of which may still be prosecutable. We believe that the New Orleans FBI field office has the right to investigate not only the Archdiocese of New Orleans, but all of the dioceses across the state: Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Houma-Thibodaux, Alexandria, and Shreveport.
We beg the FBI to look into this criminal behavior, and we invite them to contact us. There are witnesses ready and willing to speak on the record.
(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)