NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond says he’s not opposed to a statewide investigation into child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But, says he would like the church to do its own.
Aymond says the church is considering a very careful check of all their files, and if there is any documentation that resembles credible abuse, the church may release the names of the abusers.
Reporter: "Why now? Why was this information not released before?"
Aymond: “Many of us thought that, how far do you go back? What is in files when you go back to the 1930s? What we put in files today was very different than what they put in files in the 1930s and 1940s.”
In a TV exclusive, FOX 8 interviewed a man who says a Jesuit High School janitor raped him in the late 70s while a priest watched. That alleged victim has now filed official complaints with the state Attorney General, State Police and the governor’s office.
In his email to state authorities, Richard Windmann references that Aymond has a “list of known pedophiles that are employed, or have been employed by the Catholic Church” in Louisiana. Windmann goes on to say,"I think you should get a warrant that is signed by a judge, take that list and make it public. And to fullest extent possible by law, prosecute those on the list after doing a comprehensive investigation. And you should do that now, for our children."
Reporter: “Do you believe there should be a statewide investigation into church sex abuse like we recently saw in Pennsylvania?”
Aymond: "I’m not opposed to that. I mean, if that’s what the state wants to do or can do, I’m not opposed to that but, we’re not going to - I don’t want to wait for that to happen. I want us to be able to do it ourselves.”
The archbishop says a church committee made up of representatives from all seven dioceses in Louisiana has already been formed and is currently working on what a release of those names might look like. In the meantime, FOX 8 has uncovered five confidential settlements reached between alleged victims of sexual abuse within Catholic schools in New Orleans and Jesuit High School from the 1960s to the 80s.
Reporter: “How many of these cases are out there?”
Aymond: "I don’t know and I can’t speak for Jesuit. I can speak for the ones that are confidential. A person sometimes could come to us and say, ‘I do not want my name known, I’m not even interested in having the name of the abuser known, and I want to be able to put this behind me.’ Because that person is in pain.”
Aymond says if an adult reports past sexual abuse to the church and asks for confidentiality, they have to respect that. But, if there is a current case of child abuse, there is no confidentiality. The archbishop says it will be reported to police and the church will cooperate with law enforcement.
Aymond: “We never ask for confidentiality and we will never ask for confidentiality. If the victim says, ‘I don’t want my name, I don’t want the name of the person, I don’t want anyone knowing that I came here to tell you about it,’ we have to respect that.”
Reporter: “Do you think that confidentiality, even if it’s at the request of the claimant, could put other children in danger?”
Aymond: "No, because most of these - well for two reasons. Number one, if we - no, because if it’s a present case there is no confidentiality if someone comes today, and [says] ‘someone abused me,’ there is no confidentiality. The law requires that we report it, and the law requires that the person, our law, church law, that they come out of ministry. So these cases that we would be talking about would be from many decades ago.”
Aymond says if a statewide investigation were to occur, he and the church would cooperate with law enforcement as he says they always have. The archbishop adds that they have not had a credible allegation of the abuse of a minor by someone in the clergy in more than a decade in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.