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Louisiana Grand Jury Indicts Retired Priest Lawrence Hecker on Sex Abuse Charges

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A state grand jury in Louisiana has indicted a retired Roman Catholic priest on a number of felony fees associated to claims that he sexually assaulted a teenage boy within the Seventies. The long-sought fees come after public allegations that leaders within the Archdiocese of New Orleans knew about accusations towards the priest for many years.

The retired priest, Lawrence Hecker, 91, faces fees of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated crime towards nature and theft, the district lawyer of New Orleans, Jason Williams, mentioned in a information convention on Thursday.

“We’ve needed to battle very vigorously via the courts and behind the scenes for disclosure of any and all data and proof,” Mr. Williams mentioned, referring to a “cone of silence” that usually protects clergy members.

The fees come months after The Guardian reported that Mr. Hecker confessed to his superiors within the archdiocese in 1999 that he had both sexually molested or dedicated different acts of sexual misconduct towards a number of youngsters within the Sixties and ’70s. In a current interview on camera with The Guardian and the New Orleans information outlet WWL-TV, Mr. Hecker acknowledged the accuracy of the assertion, during which he wrote that he had dedicated “overtly sexual acts” with at the very least three underage boys.

The Guardian reported that the final 4 archbishops in New Orleans had “substantial motive” to imagine Mr. Hecker had abused kids. Three stayed silent, and the present archbishop, Gregory Aymond, waited years earlier than publicly acknowledging Mr. Hecker’s historical past.

Mr. Hecker’s lawyer, Eugene Redmann, didn’t reply to a request for touch upon Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Hecker retired as a priest in 2002, and the archdiocese didn’t publicly determine him as an accused predator till 2018, when it launched a listing of “credibly accused” monks within the archdiocese.

“Of all of the pedophiles that the archdiocese employed and retained and hid over these generations, Hecker is the one who’s emblematic of their failed practices and acts of self-preservation,” mentioned Soren Gisleson, a lawyer for the alleged sufferer whose claims type the idea of the indictment.

“It wasn’t a fluke, it wasn’t a one-off,” Mr. Gisleson mentioned of Mr. Hecker’s alleged abuse. “It was continual and sustained.”

In a press release, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of New Orleans mentioned the archdiocese had “reported Lawrence Hecker to regulation enforcement authorities in numerous jurisdictions multiples instances since 2002,” and would proceed to cooperate with regulation enforcement.

One other alleged sufferer of Mr. Hecker’s, Aaron Hebert, has spoken publicly about his claims that the priest abused him within the late Sixties when he was in eighth grade at an elementary college exterior New Orleans. Mr. Hebert has mentioned that Mr. Hecker took a number of college athletes into the church vestry to show “what a hernia examination could be like” in highschool sports activities settings. The priest advised the boys to drop their pants and underwear, and fondled them, Mr. Hebert has mentioned.

The New Orleans archdiocese filed for chapter in 2020 amid a flood of sexual abuse claims towards dozens of former monks and church staff. It’s amongst a couple of dozen dioceses and archdioceses which are at the moment in chapter proceedings.

The chapter submitting triggered a sweeping confidentiality order that stored secret hundreds of church paperwork associated to clergy abuse in New Orleans. Attorneys, media outlets, and advocates for victims have urged the courts to unseal the paperwork, saying their secrecy impedes a whole accounting of abuses dedicated by Mr. Hecker.

1000’s of Catholic monks have been accused of sexual misconduct over the course of the far-reaching sexual abuse disaster within the American Catholic church, which exploded into public view within the early 2000s. However comparatively few clergy members have been topic to legal prosecution. A lot of the accusations stem from occasions that happened a long time in the past, and lots of the perpetrators have died or the statues of limitations have expired.

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