NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A long-time church sex abuse attorney said more clients are coming forward now that the New Orleans archdiocese has released a list of clergy members credibly accused of abuse.
“I have several new people who have come forward,” said attorney Roger Stetter.
Stetter said he’s got 20 clients, more than a dozen of whom claim that former deacon George Brignac sexually abused them. Stetter said Brignac is responsible for more than a half-million dollars in payouts from the archdiocese.
“I think we have 13 Brignac victims, and seven from other places - Edward the Confessor and Eymard, which doesn’t exist anymore,” said Stetter.
Stetter said a man contacted him claiming that former Jesuit High School brother Claude Ory abused him. Ory’s name doesn’t show up on the archdiocese list of 57 credibly accused clergy members.
Jesuit put out a statement saying Ory’s wasn’t on the list because he was a religious brother in the Society of Jesus. The Advocate newspaper reported that Jesuit settled abuse claims involving Ory, who appears to be living in Maryland.
“They have their own system for addressing these issues,” Stetter said.
Jesuit released the following statement: “We have a process in place for victims to come forward to find healing and reconciliation. That process is outlined on our school website. There have been people using the procedures for reporting abuse either to the school or to the Jesuit province of which we are a part. Those people have asked for confidentiality, and we intend to honor those requests. We cannot comment about any claims about which we have no knowledge or any claim that is pending litigation, but we invite people to come forward using the procedures for pastoral support we have in place and continue to pray for all victims of sexual abuse.”
Stetter said he is now in the process of setting up mediation for more than a dozen cases over the next five months.
“I want to move them along as quickly as possible, and I think the church wants to, as well,” said Stetter.
For now, Stetter is pleased that the archdiocese is willing to mediate these cases, but he said if things don’t go well, the courts are always an option.
"Mediation is not good enough if the archdiocese tries to nickle and dime the client," said Stetter.
The church has said it will try and make it right.
“I think this is part of our atonement as a church. We must ask for God’s forgiveness and atonement from the people of God,” Archbishop Gregory Aymond said last month.
Stetter said he doesn’t understand why abusive priests aren’t being prosecuted in Louisiana.
“I think it’s deplorable,” he said.
The New Orleans Police Department continues its investigation, but so far, no new charges have been brought.
We reached out to the Maryland Society of Jesus. A spokesman confirmed that Claude Ory was removed from the society in 2007 after credible abuse claims surfaced there.
The local archdiocese would not confirm upcoming mediation, but spokeswoman Sarah Comiskey put out a statement saying, “While we have been in communication with Mr. Stetter, we do not think it appropriate or fair to comment on the status of mediations. Our prayers are with all victims of abuse. We invite victims to come forward and contact our Victims Assistance Coordinator so that we can walk with them towards healing.”