NOPD launches criminal investigation after church sex abuse allegations
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A former Catholic deacon accused of molesting young boys is now the subject of a criminal sexual abuse investigation. The attorney who represented one of the alleged victims in a large settlement with the Archdiocese of New Orleans hopes this will create lasting change.
A man who suppressed memories for years claims former Deacon George Brignac raped and sexually abused him at Holy Rosary church.
"Fondled me at the school, at his desk, in his car and in his home," the man said.
FOX 8 is not naming the man to protect his identity. His attorney, Roger Stetter, landed a half a $500,000 settlement from the Archdiocese three weeks ago. But this week, the attorney and his client sat down with NOPD officers to tell his story again. Stetter says his client's motivation isn't money, but to prevent any child from feeling the way he did years ago.
"Everything we can do to deter this type of behavior is appropriate A civil action is one thing that provides recompense to the victim. A criminal action really vindicates everyone," said Stetter.
Brignac was acquitted on charges he abused three young boys at St. Mathew's in River Ridge back in 1978. The Archdiocese then moved him to Holy Rosary School in New Orleans.
The NOPD has not officially brought charges against Brignac. But even though alleged victims say Brignac abused them decades ago, Stetter says there is no statute of limitations on aggravated rape.
FOX 8 asked Brignac about the accusations in June.
Reporter: "Do you make any apologies to the boys who claimed you abused them sir?"
Brignac: "I've always been apologetic to anything I did wrong, if I did anything wrong."
Stetter can't say if anyone else in the church hierarchy could be named in the criminal investigation, but he believes this time it will be different.
"I'm really glad the NOPD is serious about this. They struck out the first three times; this time I think they might be successful, and Mr. Brignac deserves to be behind bars.
FOX 8 was not able to get in touch with the NOPD about the investigation.
The Archdiocese sent us this response to the investigation:
A Statement from Archbishop Gregory Aymond
July 12, 2018
I have been informed that the New Orleans Police Department has received a formal report of allegations of sexual abuse against Mr. George Brignac that took place from 1979 through the early 1980s. At the time Mr. Brignac was serving as a deacon at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish before being formally removed from ministry in 1988. From the time this victim came forward to us, we have pledged our cooperation and support to him and in any law enforcement investigation. Today I reiterate that pledge of continued full support and cooperation of the Archdiocese of New Orleans as authorities investigate.
Jesus reminds us that we must seek truth and justice. I promise my prayers for all involved as this issue moves forward. No one should suffer abuse, especially by someone in ministry.
Once again I extend my prayers to all victims of abuse whether it was by a church member, a family member, or any other person. For those abused by a Church leader, in the name of the Church, I am sorry for the pain you have suffered. I invite those who have experienced abuse to come forward, so that we can walk with you towards healing.
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