Wealthy Catholic Donor Tried to Bribe a Victim Into Silence

According to a new lawsuit, a wealthy donor from the Archdiocese of New Orleans attempted to use their vast resources to compel a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to stay silent, hoping to protect the reputation of the Church and the accused. This is a stunning example of how, even in 2021, people will still choose to rally around an abuser they know and like instead of a victim they do not.

The lawsuit filed on Friday contends that the unnamed victim of Deacon V.M. Wheeler was offered $400,000 by “influential Catholics” in the Metairie, LA, area if he would stop cooperating with the criminal investigation into the Deacon. The fact that these people had the gall to not only unearth the identity of the victim but also to then go and attempt to pressure them into staying silent in exchange for money is truly disturbing. We can only question what good these men and women thought they were doing. 

An even more disturbing detail is the allegation that a powerful attorney, Vinny Mosca, apparently also contacted the family and told them if they pressed criminal charges against Deacon Wheeler it would be a “media feeding frenzy.” Mosca would later be hired as an attorney for the Deacon himself. This action is beyond inappropriate, and we hope that the Louisiana State Bar will look into whether or not Mosca was attempting to dissuade the family from pursuing criminal charges knowing that he would soon be representing the accused. 

Ultimately, this news paints a picture of a toxic and reputation obsessed local culture that is being disturbed by the airing of truths that are uncomfortable and challenging to hear. We are glad that the victim in this case was not pressured by these people and has instead committed to fight for transparency and justice. We hope that John Doe’s example is the one that is followed in this case, and not those of the wealthy who believed they could buy silence.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]), Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Russ Hebron, SNAP New Orleans ([email protected]

(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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