FBI probes sex abuse within the Archdiocese of New Orleans; SNAP, others react

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 7:17 PM CDT
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A statue at a Catholic Church.
A statue at a Catholic Church.(Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The FBI is investigating sex abuse allegations in the Catholic Church in New Orleans that goes back decades, according to the Associated Press.

And people who say they were subjected to abuse by priests welcome the federal investigation.

Shaun Dougherty is Board President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“Anytime an organization such as the Roman Catholic Church self-polices itself, you know, you’re not going to get a true look into the window of what is actually going on within that organization, this case being the Roman Catholic diocese in New Orleans, so the FBI has the tools and the manpower and the resources,” said Dougherty.

According to the AP, the FBI opened a “widening investigation into sex abuse” stretching back decades. The feds reportedly are looking at whether priests took children across state lines to molest them and according to AP more than a dozen alleged abuse victims have been interviewed this year as part of the investigation.

Joe Raspanti is FOX 8′s legal analyst.

“That’s part of the point of Mann Act is, it’s about people taking children across state lines to do these nefarious acts, so this allows them to get after those types of individuals,” said Raspanti.

FOX 8 asked Dougherty if he was confident the allegations are credible.

“Unfortunately, I am confident in the allegations and keep in mind that a lot of these allegations are being confirmed by the church themselves, these are going to be, especially coming from any investigation that the FBI does, they want the church’s documentation,” replied Dougherty.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans declined a request for an interview but issued the following statement:

“Beyond today’s Associated Press report, the Archdiocese of New Orleans is unaware of any federal investigation into clergy abuse.”

In May of 2020, the Archdiocese of New Orleans filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, according to federal court documents.

“FBI usually gets what they need, this is big boys, major-league pitching and they’re going to be able to get that information that was cloaked by a veil of bankruptcy court,” said Raspanti.

SNAP has been vocal around the country about sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

“I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a priest myself. I am currently in Pennsylvania, I was victimized in Pennsylvania,” said Dougherty.

FOX 8 asked Dougherty if SNAP was instrumental in bringing the allegations to the attention of the FBI.

“I can’t say specifically on this case how involved SNAP has been directly with the FBI but throughout the country SNAP, our survivors’ network of survivors across the country for the last few years have been participating with investigators in a variety of these types of investigations,” said Dougherty.

In June 2002, The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. And according to the USCCB it was revised in 2005, 2011 and 2018.

“Sure, they get together, they do an investigation, they get together at their conference, they write the charter, they come out, introduce the charter but who’s to say that they’re following it,” said Dougherty.

A spokesperson for the FBI Office in New Orleans said, per Department of Justice policy, the FBI does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

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