Clergy Sex Abuse: The Hope Haven connection

Clergy Sex Abuse: The Hope Haven connection

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Archdiocese of New Orleans list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse highlighted one particularly dark time at a Marrero orphanage.

One local attorney said more victims may come forward in the weeks and months ahead.

For 86 years, Hope Haven-Madonna Manor has served as a gateway to the west bank, but behind the orphanage’s ornate façade existed one of the Catholic church’s darkest secrets.

“Some of the abusers weren’t employed by the church. They were volunteers who were allowed to roam at will on the campus,” said attorney Roger Stetter, who sued the Archdiocese of New Orleans on behalf of sex abuse victims.

On the list of 57 abusive clergy members released by the archdiocese last week, eight - nearly one in seven - were credibly accused of abuse, and at one point spent time at Hope Haven.

“We’re telling the truth, and the truth will set you free,” Archbishop Gregory Aymond said Friday.

The list includes priests and clergy, many from the Salesian order, who served at Hope Haven, with one case dating back to the 1940s. The list includes Patrick Brady, Stanislaus Ceglar, Paul Csik, Anthony Esposito, Joseph Pankowski, Ernest Fagione and August Kita, who, the church said, were all credibly accused of abusing dozens of teens.

“In 2008 we filed a massive lawsuit with 59 named plaintiffs,” said Stetter.

Stetter would ultimately collect more than $5 million on behalf of those 59 plaintiffs, who began coming forward with their tales of abuse in 2005.

“Insurance companies picked up 50 percent of the tab to pay off these cases. ...None of them went to trial,” said Stetter.

And not all of the abusers were religious leaders.

“There was a milk truck driver who the nuns allowed to take one of the orphans on his milk route, and he took him and abused him in the back of his milk truck,” said Stetter.

Now that the abusive priest list has been made public, some believe other alleged victims will come forward.

“Repressed memory is always something that will be litigated for each individual,” said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.

Attorneys suing the church have cited suppressed memory as a reason for victims to sometime wait decades to bring accusations forward.

“It’s an accepted principle, not in every case, but there’s got to be proof and medical testimony.” said Raspanti.

Though the list could open the door for more litigation, the archbishop is confident that no more abusers will be identified.

“With great confidence, I can say the list is complete. The team was very careful,” said Aymond.

“There are a lot of moving parts to this, but moving forward we’re going to be talking about this a lot because there will be a lot of cases looked at by police and DAs,” Raspanti said.

Raspanti said proscription will likely come into play for many cases. That could mean that too much time has passed for litigaiton to occur. He said it all depends on the time frame and the type of allegation.

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