Survivors group calls for statewide investigation into church sex abuse
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -There is more pressure on the Louisiana Attorney General to investigate child sex abuse within the Catholic church. This as archbishops across the state consider releasing names of abusers within the church.
Gov. John Bel Edward’s office says Louisiana State Police are now reviewing an official complaint sent to the governor, the Attorney General and State Police by a man who says a Jesuit High School janitor raped him in the late 1970s while a priest watched.
In his email to authorities, Richard Windmann references that Archbishop Gregory 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 he thinks authorities should make the list public and prosecute those listed.
In an interview Wednesday, The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, says Attorney General Jeff Landry should be more aggressive in protecting the community. The President of SNAP’s board of directors, Tim Lennon, is calling for a statewide investigation into church sex abuse in Louisiana.
“We get back to Louisiana and the reluctance of the Attorney General to do anything or to be aggressive," Lennon said. "It takes society to compel this information to come forward. We cannot rely on the archbishop of New Orleans or the bishops of these different dioceses to tell us the truth or to protect our children.”
FOX 8 has recently reported on six settlements reached between alleged sexual abuse victims within Catholic schools in New Orleans and Jesuit High School from the 1960s to the 80s. And we have reported extensively on former Deacon George Brignac. As recently as May, Brignac was serving as a reader at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Metairie even though the Archdiocese of New Orleans paid out a more than $500,000 settlement to a victim who says Brignac raped him when he was an altar boy. That victim’s attorney says more than a dozen alleged victims have now come forward claiming Brignac also abused them.
Reporter: "Do you think criminal charges should be brought against George Brignac?"
Aymond: "I believe that when anyone does anything that is criminal that criminal charges should be brought against them, and I don’t think because someone is a deacon, a priest or a leader of the church that they should in any way be excused.”
The archbishop says the church is now considering a very careful check of all of their files in seven dioceses in Louisiana, and if there is any documentation that resembles credible abuse, the church may release the names of the abusers.
“We can question why they’re doing it now as opposed to a year ago, five years ago or 10 years ago. It’s not because they did it for any humane or moral reasons as much as they’re compelled to because of the disclosures of Pennsylvania,” said Lennon.
In a statement Wednesday, The Attorney General’s Office said:
“As a father, the Attorney General takes these allegations very seriously and is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to root out this type of activity. As we have continuously said, we stand ready to provide our assistance if needed. We are reviewing any information we have been given to ensure that any potential criminal acts will be investigated appropriately.”
The NOPD says an official investigation has been opened into allegations against George Brignac. And, State Police say they are currently reviewing Windmann’s emails.
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