What Else is Archbishop Aymond Hiding?
Keeping child sexual abuse a secret is something that most survivors can empathize with, but this story is a bit different. Three men shared their secret with a friend and mentor while in high school at St. John Prep over forty years ago. Who was that mentor? Then, Fr. Gregory Aymond, today the Archbishop of New Orleans
NOLA SNAP leader Kevin Bourgeois, who also graduated from SJP, can relate. “Fr. Greg encouraged us to call him by his first name. We admired and trusted him. We took great pride in his rise up the hierarchy to become the fourteenth Archbishop of New Orleans, the first native New Orleanian to hold that position. He was one of our own. He started his career as a teacher at St. John Prep.”
Three men told two local journalists that they confided in the current archbishop about Fr. Robert Cooper in the mid 1970’s. They trusted their friend Greg to protect them and other minors from these predators. They were, after all, on a first name basis with the man!
During his tenure at St. John Prep, Archbishop Aymond lived with and worked along-side the following:
- Paul Calamari
- Lawrence Hecker
- Deacon George Brignac
- Carl Davidson
- Luis Fernandez
- Robert Cooper
Each of the above-named men are accused of abusing minors. Each had multiple lawsuits filed again them, as well as private mediations that were administered before and during Archbishop Aymond’s tenure as the head of the Archdiocese. The men listed above harmed countless children in the New Orleans area as they were quietly shuffled between schools, parishes, and sexual abuse treatment centers, only to continue their criminal behavior. Out of all of them, Deacon Brignac was the only man to be criminally indicted. Unfortunately, the deacon died this summer and the crimes he committed were buried with him. The emotional scars the survivors have are still alive and painful today.
This report makes us wonder, what else is the Archbishop hiding?
We simply do not understand why he would conceal and protect known abusers.
What does he hope to gain from this deceit?
Last week, Archbishop Aymond was forced to remove two more priests from ministry. This is 23 months after he published, with the help of Gayle Benson’s public relations executives, a paltry and inaccurate list of 57 “credibly accused” clerics. Almost two years later, that number has increased to 65.
Subsequently, Archbishop Aymond filed for bankruptcy protection to prevent being deposed on the witness stand in open court. We believe the public can see what our Church leader is doing and we know the truth will continue to come out. The wave of survivors from the New Orleans area has not yet stopped, and we deserve accountability.
Bishops across the world who cover up the sex crimes of their brother priests and deacons hide behind Canon Law loopholes to prevent themselves from being held accountable to the public. It is past time for law enforcement and the judicial system to stand up to this multinational company that hires, protects, and cares for men for life, even those who sexually abuse children That’s right. Forever.
The only way that the public will be able to trust this Archbishop is for him to be transparent. But based on his past behavior, we doubt that Archbishop Gregory will ever willingly turn over the secret archives on the criminal behavior of clergy abusers. We call on Federal law enforcement and district attorneys in the New Orleans area to either issue search warrants or subpoenas to access those files.
As for Archbishop Aymond himself, we encourage him to free himself from the secrets that he has kept for so many decades. To our former mentor we say, “The truth will set you free. You can save your legacy as one of our own who helped lead the Church into the light."
However, at present, we fear that Archbishop Aymond is complicit in driving it further into darkness.
(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)