Suburban priests on updated clergy abuse list in Baton Rouge area
BATON ROUGE- Almost a year to the day of a news conference where Baton Rouge Catholic Bishop Michael Duca revealed the list of local clergy members accused of sexual abuse over the past several decades, the church released the names of two additional priests tied to suspected abuse.
Two names added January 29, 2020
Fr.Richard Archer, O.P., was reported on the clergy abuse list of the Dominican Friars Province of St. Joseph; Archer once was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Ponchatoula.
Fr. Lawrence Dark, C.S.C. was reported on the clergy abuse lists of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, United States Province of Brothers and Priests, and the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Dark was assigned to work at the Reynolds Institute in Albany and the William E. Anderson Memorial Boys Town in Ponchatoula.
The church has made documents available of around 40 clergy members accused of sexually abusing minors before and after the formation of the Baton Rouge Diocese in 1961.
A vast majority of the priests named in the documents appear to have either passed away or been removed from the ministry.
The diocese said in a statement Wednesday (1/29/2020): "All known or suspected sexual or other abuse of a child or vul?nerable adult should be reported immediately to local law enforcement officials or to the Department of Children and Family Services at (855) 452-5437. Allegations of such abuse involving clergy or other representatives of the Church should also be reported to Amy Cordon, the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, at (225) 242-0250."
WBRZ reporting from January 2019
"This is a difficult decision that I have made, but I am convinced that bringing more of the facts of this tragedy into the light will be a help to the victims of abuse and the beginning, I hope, of re-establishing trust where it has been lost," said Bishop Duca.
After Bishop Duca released the names Thursday, District Attorney Hillar Moore's office issued a statement welcoming the victims to come forward so that they might seek help. You can read the full statement below.
"The Catholic Diocese recently released information concerning alleged sexual abuse perpetrated by catholic priests in the East Baton Rouge area. The release of information is likely to cause some degree of re-traumatization for the victims of these alleged crimes. The District Attorney’s office as well as area law enforcement is ready to work with any victims who wish to come forward as to these named individuals or others not named. Our office and law enforcement will review the individual circumstances of each case with each victim and evaluate the case against Louisiana prescription law, that in many cases has been extended over the years. Additionally, we will also assist in connecting any victims who may benefit from support and therapy to our local resources; for our assistance in connection to local resources, there is not a requirement that we review the case for criminal prosecution."
One of those victims was in attendance during the press conference, telling WBRZ the announcement might offer him some solace.
This comes after the church hired a legal firm back in November to fully investigate all personal files in order to shed more on diocesan abuses in recent decades.
In September, Duca vowed transparency in a phone conversation with WBRZ related to allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge and a plan to make records public. Recently, it was revealed that several priests named in a list of New Orleans clergy with "credible" claims of abuse against them had previous assignments in the Baton Rouge area.
Baton Rouge is the third diocese in the state to make an announcement following New Orleans and Houma.