New Orleans Catholic Church Exposed for Ties to Child Sex-Trafficking

— Priests in the Archdiocese of New Orleans allegedly transported children out of state to abuse them.

Archdiocese of New Orleans

By Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans has come under fire as the target of a Louisiana sex-trafficking probe, according to an 11-page search warrant made public Tuesday. But a recent ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court might stand in the way of any victims seeking to hold the church accountable.

The document requested that the archdiocese hand over “ANY and ALL documents that pertain in any way to the sexual abuse of a minor by clergy members employed or otherwise associated with the Archdiocese of New Orleans,” specifying that those records violate the state’s child sex-trafficking laws.

The warrant also demands any and all communications between Gregory Aymond, the archbishop of New Orleans, and “ANY department within the Vatican pertaining to child sexual abuse.”

Aymand reportedly led a cover-up of the sprawling child sex-trafficking scheme that targeted children for several decades, going so far as to ignore pleas by his advisers to punish and publicly reveal the identities of priests and deacons in at least six separate cases that the church had determined were credible accusations of sexual misconduct with minors, according to a bombshell 48-page memorandum leaked in 2023 to The Guardian.

The warrant, which was filed last week, included disturbing details of the pedophilic scheme—including that, in some instances, “‘gifts’ were given to abuse victims by the accused [molesters] with instructions to pass on or give the gift to certain priests at the next school or church,” noting that the “‘gift’ was a form of signaling to another priest that the person was a target for sexual abuse.” Abuse was also a common occurrence at the New Orleans Seminary, where children were encouraged to skinny dip in front of other members of the Archdiocese before being assaulted, according to the warrant.

But a judgment by the Bayou State’s highest court has effectively stripped sexual assault survivors of an avenue of justice against the church. The judges ruled 3–4 in March that it’s the due process rights of priests and their enablers to not be held accountable in instances of sexual assault.

The case, Bienvenu v. Diocese of Lafayette, was brought by Douglas Bienvenu and several other plaintiffs who claimed they were sexually molested by a Roman Catholic priest during the 1970s, when they were between the ages of 8 and 14.

In its majority opinion, issued on March 22, the court argued that while the facts of the case were largely undisputed, the priest—and the religious institution he was a part of—was actually protected under the U.S. Constitution’s due process clause. Therefore, a sexual assault “look-back” window established by the Louisiana legislature in 2021 was actually, according to the court, unconstitutional.

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