NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Archdiocese of New Orleans says it's re-examining its policies after revelations that an accused child sex abuser was allowed to serve as a reader in a Metairie church.
A man who says the defrocked deacon sexually abused him says he was shocked to hear that news.
It was a stunning revelation.
There was George Brignac serving as a reader at St Mary Magdalen Church 40 years after a 12-year-old testified in a trial against him and 30 years after the Catholic Church defrocked him as a deacon. And just two weeks after the Archdiocese of New Orleans paid out a large abuse settlement to one of his former altar boys.
"I couldn't believe he was involved in any Catholic organization," said the alleged victim. He brought Brignac to trial in 1978 in Jefferson Parish and the memories flooded back this week after a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a report detailing how 300 priests more than 1,000 children.
"It's about time," said the victim.
"He definitely should not have been in any lay ministry," said the Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond.
Brignac was allowed to serve in a position where at least one source says he came in contact with altar boys.
"There were a few people who felt sorry for him and it was so long ago they made the wrong judgments and I deeply regret that," said Aymond.
No allegations of abuse surfaced during Brignac's multi-year tenure at St. Mary Magdalen. But the discovery came weeks after the Archdiocese paid out the $500,000 settlement in a 40-year-old abuse case in which a Holy Rosary altar boy was targeted.
"He fondled me at the school, at his desk, in his car and in his home," said the former altar boy.
Our interview with Brignac two months ago was the first time his former student had seen him in 40 years.
"I saw a flat out liar, and a person who should be condemned," he said.
One local attorney involved in dozens of abuse cases says there have been allegations leveled against hundreds of Louisiana priests over the last 60 years. The Archbishop says virtually all documented cases are decades old and reforms are working.
"We have not had a credible allegations in many many years. Close to 15 years," said Archbishop Aymond.
Aymond says the allegations hurt hundreds of good priests.
"In 2002, when this blew up the first time, I have priests tell me they feel like they are a suspect and they have nothing to do with it," said Aymond. "But for this 50 plus year old man, the pain remains. As you get older it comes and haunts you day after day," he said.
Archbishop Aymond says the church added a 'safe environment program' which teaches children to recognize if they are being groomed for possible abuse. He said recently one child came forward and expressed fears and the potential offender, who was not a clergy member, was removed.