New Mexico priest dies by suicide amid child sex abuse investigation

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

By Daniel Payne

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, said last week that a former priest charged in a child sex abuse case ended his own life ahead of a court hearing on the matter.

The archdiocese said in a press release that Daniel Balizan had “taken his life” ahead of “a hearing in a child sexual abuse case.” Local media reported that Balizan’s body was found on Friday morning in Springer, New Mexico.

Balizan’s “tragic decision to end his life underscores the far-reaching and devastating consequences of the crime of child abuse — affecting victims, their loved ones, and even perpetrators themselves,” the archdiocese said in its Friday statement.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico announced Balizan’s indictment in June of last year. He was accused of coercing and enticing a child under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity. The alleged abuse reportedly occurred between 2012 and 2022.

The prosecutor’s office said last year that Balizan “allegedly used text messages to coerce and entice a minor victim … to engage in sexual activity with him.”

The archdiocese said after his arrest last year that upon receiving the allegations in 2022 it “promptly reported” them to the authorities, “leading to Balizan’s immediate removal as the pastor of Santa Maria de la Paz in Santa Fe.”

Prosecutors and defense attorneys had announced at the beginning of May that Balizan had agreed to a plea deal in the case. Balizan requested “that he be permitted to remain out of custody pending the sentencing hearing,” the plea filing said.

The 61-year-old was facing a minimum of 10 years in prison on the charges.

Balizan was ordained in 1989 and had served at eight parishes in the Santa Fe Archdiocese before his arrest.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that the former priest had been released to the custody of his brother after being arrested.

In the intervening months Balizan had “done bookkeeping, housekeeping, and groundskeeping work at the small family hotel,” his lawyer had said in a filing earlier this month.

The former priest “also has been visiting and assisting his 89-year-old mother three days a week,” his attorney said.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe said in its Friday statement that it “reaffirm[ed] its zero tolerance and unwavering dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of its community members, especially the vulnerable.”

Complete Article HERE!

Dallas bishop addresses allegations of sexual misconduct by priest

Bishop Edward Burns

By Sarah Bahari

The head of Dallas’ Catholic diocese called allegations of sexual misconduct against a priest painful and said the church is committed to protecting its children and vulnerable members.

In a video published Wednesday to the diocese’s website, Bishop Edward Burns said the diocese removed the priest from public ministry within one hour of learning of the allegations and is working with law enforcement.

“This is a difficult time. It is painful to watch the news about this alleged abuse,” Burns said. “It is embarrassing, but it is necessary. This is what zero tolerance looks like.”

The priest, 34-year-old Ricardo Reyes Mata, was arrested Monday in Garland on two counts of indecency with a child. A 10-year-old girl told her Catholic school teacher that while visiting her family’s home in Garland in late April, the priest reached under her shirt and fondled her breasts, according to a police affidavit. At the time, she said, the rest of her family was outside.

The girl’s teacher immediately notified Child Protective Services, Burns said. A spokesperson for CPS did not respond to an email or phone call Thursday.

On May 2, the diocese removed Reyes Mata, who is no longer permitted to wear clerical attire in public, Burns said, then notified Garland police.

Detectives interviewed the girl and one of her siblings at the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, and the girl described the misconduct taking place April 5, according to the affidavit.

“Our care and concern goes out to young girl who brought this information forth, and we are proud of her courage,” Burns said in the video.

Reyes Mata, who lives in Dallas, was booked this week into the Garland Detention Center with bonds set at $75,000 and $100,000.

The priest was appointed parochial vicar of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Dallas in 2023, according to the cathedral’s website. Before that, Reyes Mata served as parochial vicar of St. Jude Parish in Allen. He also served as chaplain for Bishop Dunne High School in Dallas.

Allegations of sexual misconduct by priests have rocked the Catholic church in recent years and decades. In 2019, 15 Texas dioceses named nearly 300 priests credibly accused of child sex abuse spanning eight decades. Of those, 31 clergy members came from the Dallas diocese.

“As we look back at the church’s history,” Burns said in 2019, “the failure to protect our most vulnerable from abuse and hold accountable those who preyed on them fills me with both shame and sorrow.”

But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, urged the diocese to do more to identify any additional victims.

“This disturbing news from Texas reaffirms that clergy sexual abuse is still very much a thing of the present,” the advocacy organization said in a statement. “It can take victims decades to acknowledge their abuse and find the courage to come forward. However, the fact that one survivor has already been identified, may help to shorten this process.”

Detectives ask that anyone with information regarding this investigation or other such incidents, call Garland police at 972-485-4840.

Complete Article HERE!

Benedictine monk pleads guilty to battery, still lands on Illinois monastery’s sex abuser list

— Brother Joseph Charron initially was charged with sex crimes involving a now-former student. He recently pleaded guilty to aggravated battery, and the sex crime charges were dropped. Still, his Benedictine abbey placed him on its list of credibly accused child sex abusers.

Marmion Academy in Aurora, a Catholic school run by the Benedictine religious order.

By Robert Herguth

On the same day this spring that Brother Joseph Charron pleaded guilty to a felony battery charge against a former student at Marmion Academy, where the Benedictine monk was a longtime teacher, the Aurora Catholic school circulated a letter saying his conviction did not involve sexual abuse.

“With a heavy heart, I write to notify you that today, in Kane County Circuit Court, Joseph Charron, known to many in our community as Brother Andre, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery of a minor,” the Rev. Joel Rippinger, abbot of the Benedictine monastery that oversees the far west suburban school, said in the March 28 letter. “There was no plea or judgment entered as to any sex offense.”

Yet church officials have since made clear they believe Charron engaged in sexual misconduct. In April, his monastery placed his name on its public, online listing of members deemed to have been credibly accused of child sex abuse.

The Marmion monastery says on its website that being put on the list means that, “based upon the facts and the circumstances, there is objective certainty that the accusation is true and that an incident of sexual abuse of a minor has occurred.”

Charron is on that list with two other monks who served at Marmion: Brother Jerome Skaja and the Rev. Augustine Jones, both now dead. The monastery added the names to the public listing after a Chicago Sun-Times investigation in 2022 on accusations of clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups by religious figures at Marmion.

Benedictine Brother Joseph Charron.
Benedictine Brother Joseph Charron.

The Diocese of Rockford, the arm of the Catholic church that includes Kane County, followed suit and also added Charron to its own list.

Many Catholic dioceses and religious orders across the United States have been publicly identifying clergy members they believe have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. That’s happened in the wake of the decades-long child sex abuse scandal, with many inside and outside the church saying such transparency acknowledges victims’ suffering and might aid in their healing.

Charron, 68, initially was charged with numerous sex offenses stemming from accusations that he abused the former student, who is now an adult, more than a decade ago.

The sex charges were dropped as Charron pleaded guilty on March 28 to a single count of aggravated battery in a public place, records show.

As part of his plea, Charron admitted he “knowingly made contact of an insulting and/or provoking nature with . . . a male juvenile under the age of 17, in that he pressed his body into the body of” the victim “while he was in a public place of accommodation” — Marmion.

Charron was sentenced to 180 days in jail.

Since his 2022 arrest, he has been on home confinement — at least for most of that time at a house owned by the monks in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, overlooking Lake Michigan. So that time offset the jail time.

Charron paid more than $35,000 in restitution and remains on probation into 2026, records show.

His conviction does not require Charron to register as a child sex offender with police.

Monk’s victim: “I will stand up against what is wrong”

The victim, who came forward with his accusations in 2021, supported the plea agreement, prosecutors say. But he also made clear at the court hearing at which the plea agreement was accepted that Charron’s destruction was profound. In a victim-impact statement, he said:

“I will no longer be silent, nor will I be oppressed. I will stand up against what is wrong . . . and the indifference that the church has shown me is wrong.

“I have been taught by an institution that praises chastity, while many members flaunt the true indifference towards their vows.

“Our family was torn apart by the man — by the lies of men who claimed God’s blessing.

“I can no longer believe in faith-based institutions, nor can I believe in religion in general. I cannot believe in others’ words, and I have learned because I have lived in a world of mistrust, denial of my emotions and a refusal to believe that I could genuinely be hurting. This was the hell I had to live in for the years leading up until this day.

“This is the world that the felon will now need to live in. I give all the lack of acknowledgment shown to me. I give the hell that I’ve been living in the past 15 years of my life away. I finally can move forward to live my life.”
Kane County prosecutor Christine Bayer says, “For the victim to come forward was a big deal.”

Bayer won’t say why her office ended up dropping the sex charges and settling on the aggravated battery count except to say, “I really look to what’s the best interest of the victim and society.”

Charron couldn’t be reached. David Camic, his lawyer, says, “Based on our understanding of the facts, this was an appropriate disposition.”

Marmion leaders ‘deeply sorrowful’

In a written statement, the monastery’s leaders say, “Marmion is deeply sorrowful that this crime occurred and apologizes to the victim and the entire community.”

Charron “will remain out of state on a strict safety plan,” they say. “He will not return to the Marmion Abbey or Academy. We will not disclose his specific location in the newspapers for obvious reasons. We take all proper steps as it relates to neighbors.”

Before becoming a Benedictine, Charron belonged to another Catholic religious order, the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd, working in the Chicago area and elsewhere.

In a 2014 profile of Charron, Marmion’s magazine for students and their families and alumni wrote: “He was attracted to the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd because of their health care work with the poor, the disabled and the elderly.”

Charron entered the order in 1979 and spent part of his early years ministering at Good Shepherd Manor, a facility for men with intellectual and developmental disabilities an hour south of Chicago, in Momence — in the geographic territory of the Diocese of Joliet, whose public list of credibly accused clerics doesn’t include Charron.

During that time, “He came in contact with the Marmion Benedictines when he and his classmates came to the abbey for some classes in spirituality,” according to the magazine.

Records show he spent six months in the early 1980s at a care facility in Wakefield, Ohio, that drew news coverage in the 1990s when the family of a mentally impaired man sued the church, saying he was sexually assaulted by one or more members of Charron’s order and contracted HIV. He died of AIDS.

More recently, the Little Brothers folded into another religious order, the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, and the head of that group, Brother David Lynch, says there were no accusations against Charron when he was a member.

“The first we heard” of problems was “when the police contacted us” as part of the Marmion accusations, Lynch says. “We cooperated fully.”

He says Charron left his order because he felt the Benedictines were a better fit.

“We’re a very active order and he wanted a more monastic setting,” Lynch says. “He wanted a more contemplative life. . . . We agreed this was a good fit for him. There was nothing sinister.”

In its statement, Marmion leaders say: “There have not been any other allegations against Br. Charron at this time. But we are humble about what we know and do not know. We ask any victim of abuse — no matter how long ago it occurred — to reach out to us and the law enforcement authorities.”

It’s not uncommon for priests or other members of religious orders to move from one Catholic group to another. But experts say it can be a red flag of trouble. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on one such case last month, involving the Rev. Mark Santo, who died in 2008. Santo, who had been identified as a credibly accused abuser, was a member of the Servite religious order. He moved around the country, leaving the group to be assumed into the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

In Charron’s case, personnel records show he was based for a time in Lombard. He also ministered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and served as secretary general of the Little Brothers order from 1997 to 2002. That year, he became chief executive officer of a homeless shelter in Miami that was the subject of a criminal investigation when a top administrator working for Charron was accused of enlisting homeless people and charity resources to renovate his homes.

Charron initially responded to accusations raised by employees at the charity by threatening them with legal action, according to the Miami Herald, which quoted Charron saying in an internal memo, “I am committed to engage our legal counselors in handling any further allegations as liability for slander.”

Later, according to news accounts, Charron realized he’d been duped and was quoted as saying, “In hindsight, we realize now it was too much faith to be placed in one person.”

Charron resigned from the homeless charity in 2004, saying he needed to care for his ailing mother in Michigan, according to the Herald.

Not long after, he joined Marmion’s monastery.

Complete Article HERE!

8 survivors speak during special hearing in Archdiocese of Baltimore bankruptcy case

Frank Schindler, a member of the Maryland chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, speaks to reporters on Monday outside the Edward A. Garmatz U.S. Courthouse in Baltimore following a hearing in the Archdiocese of Baltimore bankruptcy case.

By Dylan Segelbaum

From the witness stand in a small, packed courtroom, Cathy Roland held up two photos, one of herself and one of her late twin sister, Terri, as children.

Inside the Edward A. Garmatz U.S. Courthouse in Baltimore, Roland then showed a picture of the two of them together, which she said was taken after the Rev. Eugene Ambrose McGuire had sexually abused them at St. Joseph’s Monastery Parish.

“It’s just different,” she said Monday. “It’s just sadness.”

After presenting her statement, Roland told other survivors in the courtroom that her heart goes out to them. “We will get through it,” she added.

For a second time, survivors of childhood sexual abuse presented statements during a hearing in the Archdiocese of Baltimore bankruptcy case. Eight people shared their stories. Many spoke about how being sexually abused stole their childhood, drove them to alcoholism and drug addiction, and ruined their ability to develop relationships and trust others.

“I hate God,” one woman testified. “Because he let this happen to me. And all these other people here.”

Archbishop William Lori said he was moved by the powerful testimony of the eight survivors who spoke on Monday during a hearing in the Archdiocese of Baltimore bankruptcy.

Archbishop William Lori again attended the court proceedings and listened to their statements. He later said the testimony moved him and commented about the courage of the survivors.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michelle M. Harner set aside time for the statements at the request of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, which represents survivors in the case. The Archdiocese of Baltimore supported the effort. Six people spoke on April 8 during the first specially set hearing, which was designed to increase transparency and understanding in the process.

“From the court’s perspective, this is a listening session: an opportunity for individuals to be heard,” said Harner, who largely echoed her remarks at the first hearing. “Today, the court will provide time and space for listening.”

As a lifelong Baltimorean, Mark Easley said he went to church every Sunday at St. Vincent de Paul.

His family members, he said, were devout Catholics. He said he trusted everyone in that environment. It seemed like a haven during the political and racial turmoil of the 1960s.

The Rev. Edmund Stroup, he said, would have some people stay with him overnight, which was considered an honor. Easley said he was excited for his opportunity to do the same.

“I viewed this man as one of God’s messengers,” Easley said.

Stroup, he said, sexually abused him during that visit as well as a subsequent overnight stay.

Easley said he was mortified and kept what happened to himself, sinking into music as a coping mechanism. The abuse, he said, “turned me and my life upside down.”

Joe Martin spoke about the sexual abuse that he experienced at the hands of the Rev. Francis LeFevre, whom he met in fifth grade as an altar boy at St. Anthony of Padua.

LeFevre, he said, was outgoing, energetic and likeable. In retrospect, Martin said, the priest “ingratiated himself in all aspects of my life.”

Martin said LeFevre abused him during trips to places including Sea Isle City, New Jersey, and stated that the victimization continued after he started attending Calvert Hall.

He said he felt ashamed and embarrassed. Martin said he hated everyone and everything, with destructive thoughts turning into destructive behaviors.

Eventually, Martin said, he moved back home and returned to church. Elders prayed over him and stated that Jesus loved him, an instance he described as the most peaceful moment in his life. Finally, Martin said, he knew that somebody loved him.

Often, Martin said, he has anger. But he said he has also learned to let go and noted that he joined the creditors’ committee.

Following the hearing, Frank Schindler, a member of the Maryland chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and Teresa Lancaster, a survivor, activist and attorney in Maryland who testified at the first hearing, criticized the Archdiocese of Baltimore for filing for bankruptcy. They also spoke out against the Catholic Church for challenging the Child Victims Act of 2023, which eliminated the statute of limitations for survivors to file lawsuits and allowed more people to sue institutions that enabled their victimization.

Right before the law was set to take effect on Oct. 1, 2023, and open up the church to a flood of lawsuits, the Archdiocese of Baltimore filed for bankruptcy.

Teresa Lancaster, a survivor, activist, and attorney in Maryland, speaks outside the courthouse following a bankruptcy hearing for the Archdiocese of Baltimore on 5/20/24 in Baltimore, MD.
Teresa Lancaster, a survivor, activist, and attorney in Maryland, criticizes the Archdiocese of Baltimore for filing for bankruptcy as well as the Catholic Church for challenging the Child Victims Act of 2023 during a news conference outside the Edward A. Garmatz U.S. Courthouse in Baltimore.

The Maryland Supreme Court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of the law.

The chair of the creditors’ committee, Paul Jan Zdunek, said it was gut-wrenching listening to survivors recount what happened to them.

Zdunek said the deadline to submit a claim in the case is May 31 and emphasized that survivors can do so anonymously. The committee also has a website that contains up-to-date information about the court proceedings as well as resources.

He said the committee has been meeting with the archbishop and his team.

“They’re saying the right things. Now, we just hope they will continue to do the right things as we move forward,” Zdunek said. “We’re all stuck in this together — and are trying to do what we can for those who have been abused.”

Complete Article HERE!

‘We were encouraged to be with younger boys’

— Breaking down a child molester priest’s secret testimony

Lawrence Hecker. The St Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.

In unearthed deposition, Lawrence Hecker pleaded the fifth 117 times, but still provided damning details of decades-long predatory behavior


The Guardian and CBS affiliate WWL Louisiana have obtained a long suppressed, eight-and-a-half-hour deposition of a 92-year-old Catholic priest charged with physically overpowering and raping a boy in a New Orleans church in 1975.

Taken in 2020 as part of a civil lawsuit demanding damages from him and the church, clergyman Lawrence Hecker provides in the deposition the most complete account yet of how the US’s second-oldest archdiocese spent much of its recent history taking extreme measures to keep the public from finding out about his abusive past. The questioning – which the church has fought in court for years to keep hidden – also reveals steps the city’s last four archbishops took to help him avoid accountability for decades.

Eventually, law enforcement officials were able to obtain an indictment charging Hecker with rape, kidnapping and other crimes in connection with an accusation that he strangled a teenaged student – at a school for boys interested in becoming priests – unconscious and sodomized him. A team of psychiatrists recently determined that Hecker was mentally incompetent to stand trial, at least for now. But a judge has not yet ruled on whether he intends to adopt that finding, which would probably delay the case months, if not longer – something that could be decisive in a case involving a defendant in his 90s.

Meanwhile, the case has since given rise to an inquiry to determine whether the archdiocese of New Orleans presided over “widespread sexual abuse of minors dating back decades” that was “covered up and not reported to law enforcement”. That is the way Louisiana state police troopers described the investigation in a recent search warrant that court records show was served on the church as part of an investigation into alleged child sex-trafficking.

The Guardian and WWL on Thursday published a report breaking down what the outlets consider to be the weightiest revelations of Hecker’s deposition. Given that the deposition spans hours as well as hundreds of pages of documents, the report is lengthy.

But in the summary below, readers can find some big-picture takeaways, along with analysis of some material which did not fit into the main report.

  • 1. It may never be possible to know how many children Hecker abused after his ordination in 1958

    The attorney who deposed Hecker, Richard Trahant, questioned him in connection to more than a dozen separate accusers.

    Hecker acknowledged either molesting or harassing about a half a dozen of those victims in a 1999 statement that he provided to archdiocesan superiors.

    The deposition also alludes to another remarkable document proving that Hecker was abusive: an apology letter which he penned to a victim that the archdiocese delivered on his behalf in about 2005. The contents of the letter were not discussed in the deposition, which Trahant said was not provided to him in advance of his questioning Hecker. But it is mentioned in archdiocesan records to which he referred during the deposition.

    Ultimately, Trahant took Hecker’s deposition months before key filing deadlines associated with the archdiocese’s decision to solicit bankruptcy protection in May 2020. Those deadlines prompted hundreds of additional abuse claims pertaining to the archdiocese’s decades-old clerical molestation scandal, and Trahant alluded to how he expected that would produce more Hecker accusers.

    At one point during his deposition, which was taken over two days, even Hecker himself became overwhelmed at the number of times with which he has been confronted with substantial child abuse allegations.

    “There has been so many,” Hecker remarked. “We’ve looked at so much of this stuff – I can’t remember all of the stuff. It’s swimming around in my head … I’m having trouble assimilating all this stuff y’all are saying.”

    During another portion of his questioning, Trahant said to Hecker: “You have committed so many felonies against children that you can’t remember them all, correct?” Hecker avoided answering the question by invoking his right against self-incrimination under the constitution’s fifth amendment.

    Colloquially known as “pleading the fifth”, Hecker invoked that right 117 times during the deposition. That’s about once every four minutes.

  • 2. Hecker’s history of complaints spans the entire US church abuse scandal

    Abuse allegations against Hecker generally came in clusters around the major milestones in the US’s reckoning with Catholic clergy sexual abuse, which began in the 1980s, when Louisiana priest Gilbert Gauthe pleaded guilty to molesting several boys. More claims – and Hecker’s confession – came in the 1990s, when Louisiana priest Robert Melancon was convicted of raping an altar boy.

    There were more claims in 2002, the same year that a clergy abuse and cover-up scandal subsumed Boston’s Catholic archdiocese and led US bishops to promise transparency as well as reforms.

    Meanwhile, public outrage over a 2018 grand jury report in Pennsylvania which established that clergy abuse within the state’s Catholic institutions was more widespread than thought prompted New Orleans’ archdiocese to publish a list of dozens of abusive clergymen. That roster not only included Hecker and was the first time he had been unmasked as a predator – it also set off another wave of abuse allegations against him, including the lawsuit that led to the deposition.

    Hecker’s alleged abusive acts date back to the early 1960s. An archdiocesan memo mentioned during the deposition, without elaboration, says officials have reasons to suspect that he abused until 1997, five years before he was forced to retire.

  • 3. The church was advised to oust Hecker from the clergy in 2002. It never did

    In 2002, which was the same year Hecker retired, an advisory board meant to help the then archbishop manage ongoing fallout from the metastasizing clerical abuse scandal advised him to boot the suspected serial child molester from the clergy.

    Had the archbishop, Alfred Hughes, successfully put Hecker through the process known as laicization, it would have prevented him from collecting lucrative retirement benefits. Instead, by not being laicized, Hecker received his full retirement benefits until the judge in charge of the church’s bankruptcy case required the church to cancel most of them.

    Hecker revealed during his deposition that he wasn’t even aware that he had been recommended for laicization, a process he nonetheless could have opposed if it had been imposed on him unwillingly.

  • 4. Hecker admitted to a federal crime with no statute of limitation – then tried to take it back

    During one of the more notable exchanges during the deposition, Hecker replied “Yes” when Trahant asked him: “You would agree that some of this sexual molestation occurred on out-of-town trips, out of the state of Louisiana, correct?”

    Hecker apparently soon realized what he had admitted and frantically said, “I – but I – no. I invoke my fifth amendment rights.” Trahant responded: “Well, I think you answered it and invoked your fifth-amendment rights.”

    Taking children across state lines for the purposes of sexually molesting them is a federal crime with no statute of limitation. Hecker has not been charged in connection with any federal offense.

  • 5. Hecker’s statements about his mental sharpness were contradictory

    Hecker’s mental acuity looms prominently in the state criminal court case pending against him. A team of psychiatrists that evaluated him said he had short-term memory loss which compromised his ability to assist the attorneys defending him, something the constitution requires him to be able to do to be tried for a crime.

    Hecker indicated he did have short-term memory loss in a 2000 letter that he wrote to the congregants of the church where he was working at the time to explain why he was being transferred away from them.

    But the real reason for his transfer was that a psychiatric care facility had diagnosed him as a pedophile, news which his superiors greeted by sending him on an out-of-state sabbatical. And records generated by that psychiatric evaluation made no mention of memory problems.

    At the deposition itself, Trahant bluntly asked Hecker: “Do you have a problem remembering things from 15 minutes ago?”

    “No,” Hecker answered.

    Hecker was also contradictory about his long-term memory during the deposition. He demonstrated a razor-sharp recall of exactly what church he was working at during specific years as far back as the 1960s. Yet he repeatedly described himself as drawing a blank or having trouble remembering some information, mostly with respect to questions about what his superiors may or may not have known about the abuse allegations against him.

  • 6. Hecker is one of many living, retired New Orleans priests facing credible abuse allegations

    One of the more stunning exchanges in Hecker’s deposition saw him look over a list of 50 archdiocesan priests who were retired and still living. Most of the names were in blue – except 11, which were in red. Trahant established that the names of those in red were living, retired priests with abuse allegations that the archdiocese itself deemed credible.

    “That would [mean] 22% of the retired, incardinated priests in the archdiocese of New Orleans have credible claims of sexual abuse against them,” Trahant said. “That’s a lot, isn’t it? That’s over one in five.”

    Hecker replied: “I do not know.”

  • 7. Hecker’s attorney demonstrated a palpably high level of resentment toward him

    New Orleans-area criminal defense attorney Eugene Redmann represented Hecker at the deposition and repeatedly criticized him for rambling before answering yes or no questions. His frustration with Hecker was perhaps most apparent when, in a raised voice, Redmann took the Lord’s name in vain and told his client: “Stop diarrhea of the mouth – Jesus. Just answer the questions. We will never end.”

    Typically, whenever Redmann’s patience with him ran thin, Hecker replied with something to the effect of: “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be difficult for all of y’all.”

  • 8. Hecker claims he believed celibacy meant only avoiding women

    In both his 1999 confession and a summer 2023 interview with WWL and the Guardian, Hecker attributed his serial molestation of children to the libertine attitudes of the 1960s and 1970s. But molesting children was as illegal back then as it is now, Trahant pointed out during the deposition.

  • Hecker then offered up an alternative explanation: he said the church taught him that priests could honor their promise of celibacy simply by ensuring they were never “alone with a woman in private”.“In fact, we were encouraged to be with younger people, especially younger boys, in the hopes that they would want to become priests,” Hecker said. “And then … it was definitely discouraged because of what was found out, that sometimes priests were – were being accused. So from then on, I made a promise to myself never to be alone with a person under 18 – period.”

  • 9. Hecker and the church greatly feared media exposure

    Hecker spoke plainly about how much he feared the media would one day report why he was forced to retire in 2002. “I would not want [friends] to know,” Hecker said. “We all didn’t want big publicity or anything.”

    Trahant at one point established how an archdiocesan official issued a letter saying the church’s “only concern” with Hecker was “that someone in his past might decide to go public”. Hecker pleaded the fifth when Trahant asked why “there was no concern for the minors that you raped, their families or kids you might rape in the future”.

Complete Article HERE!