Archdiocese of New Orleans weighs in on Pennsylvania grand jury report

Updated: Aug. 15, 2018 at 5:50 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Archdiocese of New Orleans is reacting to a grand jury report out of Pennsylvania implicating 300 priests in sexual abuse allegations.

The Pennsylvania allegations have one man, who brought charges against a deacon in the 70s, hoping for similar action in Louisiana.

It hit him this morning like a recurring bad dream.

"As you get older it comes and haunts you day after day."

When this local man, who brought charges against a former New Orleans area deacon in the 70's heard of a Pennsylvania grand jury report,on 300 alleged predator priests, he says relived his own experiences.

"It affects my life in every situation, my family, my can't go on anymore," he said.

The Pennsylvania report involves sexual abuse allegations involving 1000 children and allegations that the church's methods were a 'playbook for concealing the truth'.

"It was child sexual abuse, including rape, committed by grown-men, priests, against children. Above all else, they protected their institution at all costs," said Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro.

Some of the Pennsylvania allegations are more than 50 years old, but the pain never goes away.

But of the 300 priests who are named, the Pennsylvania grand jury only initiated charges against two due to a statute of limitations, similar to ones that come into play in Louisiana as well.

There's no statute of limitations in Louisiana when it comes to certain rape cases. But there is a 30-year statute of limitations for 16 crimes ranging from attempted first degree rape to sexual battery and prostitution of persons under the age of 18.

The Pennsylvania grand jury listed a number of recommendations on how future abuse could be prevented, including  genuine investigations by trained professionals.

"This should be looked at like another crime. A priest is still a man and he should be prosecuted under our laws," said Raspanti.

The NOPD recently announced it was opening it's investigation into Deacon George Brignac whose actions in the 70's were at the root of the Archdiocese recently paying a half million dollar settlement. That could lead to a grand jury indictment. That could lead to investigations at the state or local level.

"I'm sure if the attorney general decided to put his energies toward this, there are dozens of cases, that could be made," said Raspanti.

The archbishop of New Orleans had this reaction to the Pennsylvania allegations.

"If there are other victims out there, I'm willing to meet with you and want to come forward. I stand open to meet with you and journey with you to healing," said Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

He says he's addressing weaknesses in child safety policies that allowed Brignac to become a lay reader at St. Mary Magdalene, but he says since reforms were put in place 16 years ago, there's been only one credible case of abuse brought forward locally.

Archbishop Aymond says the church's safe environment program has been effective in keeping abusive priests out of the ministry.

He also says there are hundreds of good priests in the local archdiocese who are hurt by these allegations.

As for the Louisiana attorney general, his office says there are no active church abuse investigations underway.

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