73rd clergyman added to New Orleans archdiocese's credibly accused list
NEW ORLEANS - The list of New Orleans area clergyman who have been credibly accused of child sex abuse has expanded with the addition of a 73rd name.
According to WWL-TV, as of Wednesday, Dec. 2, the Archdiocese of New Orleans added the name of the late Rev. Robert Cooper to the list.
The addition was made two months after a New Orleans man named Tim Trahan, told The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate and WWL-TV that he'd been sexually assaulted by Cooper in the mid-1970's.
Trahan initially reported his allegations to the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 2007 and at that time, the archdiocese agreed to pay for his therapy, but failed to add Cooper’s name to its list when it was first released in November 2018.
“I am sorry it took exposure through the media for them to get their act together, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it’s going to take again and again,” Trahan told WWL-TV Wednesday.
Cooper began working at St. John Vianney Prep in the summer of 1976, where he initially worked as a counselor and disciplinarian.
According to Trahan, the older man began sending Trahan and other St. John students inappropriate letters filled with sexual innuendos. After some time, Trahan says Cooper got him alone by inviting him to dinner. At some point during the dinner, Trahan said he passed out and woke up to find Cooper molesting him.
A friend of Trahan's who also received inappropriate letters from Cooper and who vouched for Trahan's account of Cooper's abuse told WWL-TV, "After all these years, the truth is finally being recognized and reported by the archdiocese, and I hope that this effort encourages others to come forward and tell their stories."
Trahan added that Cooper wasn't the only clergyman who took advantage of him when he was an underage student at St. John Vianney Prep, he also named Rev. J. Luis Fernandez as one of his abusers.
Fernandez, retired and living in Miami since 2003, has been suspended from clerical duties by the archdiocese, as of Wednesday. His name, however, has not been added to the archdiocese's credibly accused list, as the formal process related to the charges made against him has yet to reach its conclusion.
A statement from an archdiocesan spokeswoman confirmed that the allegations against Fernandez had been reported to law enforcement officials, but it didn’t specify which agencies.