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Alleged church sex abuse victim asks federal court to make Archdiocese documents public

Updated: Jul. 10, 2020 at 4:28 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -In a new motion filed this week, an alleged church sex abuse survivor is fighting to unseal church documents.His case, along with more than 30 others, was immediatey stayed and moved to Federal court when the Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in May.

The anonymous plaintiff referred to as JW Doe says former priest Lawrence Hecker sexually abused him. The Archdiocese placed Hecker on the 2018 list of clergy credibly accused of child sex abuse. According to the new motion, "the documents are relevant to all of Hecker's victims as well as to the Archdiocese's policy, practice, and procedure of covering up abuse allegations and enabling predators."

"Basically, they're saying this stuff that has been redacted by the Archdiocese should not have been redacted by the Archdiocese, that the plaintiffs were entitled to it and judge you need to make them turn that over to us, which is all really part of the discovery issues and why they don't want to be in bankruptcy court, they want to be back in state court, where they can get all of this discovery," said Fox 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti.

The plaintiff’s attorneys also object to the Archdiocese’s payment to certain professionals, whose names are redacted in the motion. According to the federal documents, “these ‘ordinary course professionals’ should not be allowed to be retained by the Archdiocese” without “a thorough review of the documents” and “discovery to determine the full breadth of their involvement in the various cover-ups.” The plaintiff’s lawyers add “whatever the debtor was to pay these “professionals” would be better served paying sexual abuse claims.”

"The payment thing may be that they feel other people are getting monies that they need to keep control of to be part of their pie," said Raspanti.

The new motion also says "that Hecker collected retirement benefits for nearly two decades after he was removed from ministry for sexually abusing many children, and that Archbishop Aymond and other high-ranking clerics will continue to be paid within the context of this bankruptcy instead of facing criminal ramifications, is an affront to the pain JW Doe has been forced to bear for decades."

We reached out to the Archdiocese of New Orleans for comment, we received a statement from a public relations firm on behalf of the church saying: “The Archdiocese of New Orleans has consistently stated its position regarding comments on matters currently in litigation, and yet day after day comments are requested by the news media on issues and developments dealing directly with the bankruptcy litigation. These media questions arise from continued filings by those who are attempting to influence the public outside the courtroom. Our proceedings and responses have followed the procedures of the court and it is our intention to work within the court system. It is inappropriate to discuss pleadings, motions, or other matters of litigation outside the court proceedings, and we ask for the public’s understanding that it is our intention to follow the rule of law. The Archbishop receives the same salary and benefits as all other priests in the Archdiocese.”

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