NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -There are serious allegations against the Archdiocese of New Orleans in a new lawsuit filed in Civil Court this week. An alleged victim claims he was sexually abused by a priest at St. Ann Church in Metairie in the early 1980s.
He says the abuse started when he was just 10 years old while he was an altar boy. The lawsuit identifies his abuser as Father James C. Collery.
According to the filing, during his time at St. Ann, Collery said masses in rotation with now Archbishop Gregory Aymond.
“It reads like a John Grisham novel. It’s got some very sensationalized things and Gregory Aymond, the Archbishop, seems to be a fact witness because he was around at the same time, at the same church, same mass, so very interesting case,” Fox 8 Legal Analyst, Joe Raspanti said.
Attorneys for the alleged victim say Collery started molesting boys at St. Ann almost immediately. But, those attorneys say the Archdiocese should have known that Collery was a danger to children before he sexually abused their client. The lawsuit also claims the Archdiocese didn’t report Collery to the police while he was still alive.
“It is clear that because the Archdiocese knew about Collery’s sexual abuse of at least one minor in 1983, Collery could have been prosecuted within the statute of limitations had he been reported to police,” the lawsuit said.
The court filing also says the Archdiocese had known for 30 years before the alleged victim reported his claim about Collery, “but engaged in zero outreach to potential Collery victims which, upon information and belief, there are several,” the lawsuit said.
“It seems that they are really trying to prove more and more their guilty knowledge, that the Archdiocese knew about this guy, let him come here and be at a parish with these children and they more implicated them that they had knowledge contemporaneously about this guy’s wrong doing,” Raspanti said.
Collery was listed on the Archdiocese’s 2018 list of clergy credibly accused of child sex abuse. The lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese of having information about another sexual assault at the time it released its pedophile list, but attorneys claim the church intentionally misstated the date it had received notification of a sexual assault by Collery against a minor.
We reached out to the Archdiocese of New Orleans about this story. In a statement, it said: “While we will not comment on matters of pending litigation, all victims of abuse remain in our prayers daily.”