By: Samantha Breitner, Associate in G&E’s Civil Rights Practice Group
An investigation by The Guardian has uncovered a massive cover-up of child sex abuse by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Roman Catholic priest Lawrence Hecker confessed to his superiors that he had molested multiple teens over a 15-year period, but has never been charged.
Several accusations of Hecker’s sexual misconduct came to light in the late 1980s and mid-1990s. By 1999, Hecker confessed to his sex crimes and that he preyed upon seven teenagers between the years 1966 and 1979.
According to The Guardian, after his admission, the Archdiocese of New Orleans sent Hecker to a psychiatric treatment facility out of state, but he returned to work only months later. The church ultimately let Hecker work until he retired in 2002 – which occurred right after The Boston Globe broke the sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston revealing that dozens of priests had molested and raped children for decades while church officials covered it up.
Attorneys for the Archdiocese of New Orleans only reported one of the cases Hecker included in his confession to the New Orleans’ police investigators. Years went by, and the church continued to pay Hecker’s retirement until 2020, when the Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for federal bankruptcy protection and the judge ordered the church to stop paying into his benefits.
Following another recent accusation of child rape by Hecker, the Archdiocese of New Orleans turned over “voluminous documents” about Hecker. Hecker has not been charged for his crimes by law enforcement, though it is unclear whether he may be in the future, according to The Guardian.
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