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Archdiocese of New Orleans under investigation for decades-long child sex trafficking coverup

3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago Tuesday, April 30 2024 Apr 30, 2024 April 30, 2024 3:10 PM April 30, 2024 in News
Source: WWL

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana State Police are investigating the Archdiocese of New Orleans for possible child sex trafficking linked to widespread sexual abuse committed by priests over several decades, WWL reported from a criminal warrant Tuesday.

The warrant says that Louisiana State Police are seeking all documents linked to the archdiocese's sexual abuse scandal including letters and emails, as well as priest assignments, transfers and personnel files.

State Police are also asking the archdiocese turn over records of all complaints of sexual abuse made to archdiocesan officials and financial records related to the archdiocese's sexual abuse cases and documents that led to priests being added to the list of priests who have been credibly accused of committing sexual abuse.

The warrant comes after case's lead investigator testified under oath that his team found a decades-long pattern of "widespread sexual abuse," which included a victim investigators spoke with in June 2022 who "detailed being anally raped at an Archdiocese facility by Ex-Priest Father Lawrence Hecker, who served in 13 different congregations during his career."

This led to the investigation into the Archdiocese, WWL reports.

Archdiocesan officials reportedly covered up the abuse and failed to report it to law enforcement. When investigators executed the search warrant during their investigation into Hecker, they uncovered documents that previous archbishops knew of the sexual abuse and failed to report claims to law enforcement, but spent Archdiocese funding to support the accused priests.

According to the warrant, investigators gathered statements from multiple victims who reported being brought to other parishes outside of Louisiana where they were abused.

WWL reports that Rodrigue said those victims reported how priests allegedly passed victims around to each other, with priests giving victims gifts to give to another priest as a signal that the victim was a target for abuse. Other victims, detailed how they were brought to the New Orleans Seminary where they were told to swim naked in the pool and would be sexually assaulted or abused.

The search warrant's release comes as the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office works to prosecute Hecker, who admitted to a WWL-TV reporter that he molested a teen in the 1970s. A judge recently ruled that Hecker, 92, is mentally incompetent to stand trial on sexual abuse charges, WWL reports.

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