St. Peter’s Church reacts to former priest Sax’s name on abuse list

St. Peter’s Church reacts to former priest Sax’s name on abuse list
A former priest at St. Peter's Church was on the list of names of alleged church abusers released by the archdiocese on Friday. (WVUE) (ROB MASSON)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Parishioners at a Catholic Church in Reserve say they were surprised to see the name of a former priest show up four days ago on a list of alleged abusers.

Many have strong feelings about what should happen now.

St. Peter’s Church is part of George Tassin’s life.

“I’ve been here since I got married ... 42 years,” Tassin said.

But parishioners at this church, like others in Southeast Louisiana, said they were stunned to learn that a former longtime priest was on the list of 57 of those credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

“My name is on it. I have nothing to say,” said former Priest John Sax after the list was released on Friday.

Nola.com/The Times-Picayune reported that Sax, who helped draft the archdiocese’s 1993 sex abuse policy, acknowledged that he sexually abused a 10-year-old altar boy back in the 1980′s at St. Peter’s Church.

When FOX 8 contacted Sax hours after the list was released, he offered apologies.

“I already did that 17 years ago. I apologized then and now. I’m sorry. I regret what I did,” Sax said.

The archdiocese reportedly moved him from St. Peter’s Church in 1985. He then went on to serve for eight years in the 1990′s as the archdiocese director of priest personnel, recommending to then Archbishop Francis Shulte where priests should be assigned.

He served at 11 different churches in the New Orleans area, including St. Cecilia, St. Clement of Rome, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Louis Cathedral, before the archdiocese removed him from the ministry in 2004.

“Don’t push it off into another parish. That’s what they do,” Tassin said.

Some parishioners at St. Peter’s were glad that Sax’s name was among those which have been made public and they believe he should be prosecuted for what he did. One man looked me in the eye and said if it were you or me we would be in jail.

“That’s a shame. He deserved to go to jail,” Tassin said.

When Sax was removed from St. Peter’s Church 33 years ago, he said neither he, nor anyone he knew, knew about the 10-year-old boy, who The Times-Picayune reported was repeatedly abused while doing odd jobs at the rectory, sometimes late at night.

“He was quiet. I didn’t know his background,” Tassin said..

“The name is correct. It’s on the list, that’s all I can say. I’m sorry and I regret it,” Sax reiterated.

The former monsignor now asks for one thing: forgiveness.

But churchgoers want more.

“Prosecute him, he did wrong. (He should) go to jail,” Tassin said.

FOX 8 reached out to the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office about an investigation. Sheriff Mike Tregre said, “If the victim still decides to come to the sheriff’s office, we will take the report, and I will talk with the DA and the Attorney general to see if the complaint is prosecutable."

The alleged victim sued Sax and the archdiocese 15 years ago. There is no word on a settlement, but The Times-Picayune reported that the church paid for therapy.

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