Big Trouble in The Big Easy

News: Video Reports
by Aidan O'Connor  •  •  February 22, 2022   

Victims challenge New Orleans archbishop

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Last year, an archdiocese narrowly escaped a major fraud lawsuit by agreeing to pay roughly $1 million in settlements. Now, an advocacy group is revisiting the case and threatening the tax-exempt status of the archdiocese. 

Church Militant's Aidan O'Connor takes a new look at challenges in New Orleans. 

Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse is bringing the archdiocese of New Orleans to bear for taxpayer fraud.

Last week, the nonprofit advocacy group filed an IRS complaint accusing the archdiocese of misusing federal government aid. 

Richard Windmann — president of the survivors' organization also known as SCSA — explained his motives to Church Militant.

Windmann: "The goal is for the federal government to do a thorough examination of their operations and to take away their nonprofit [status] if we're right." 

Last year, the archdiocese narrowly dodged a lawsuit accusing it of unjustly collecting taxpayer-funded aid for Hurricane Katrina. The department of justice alleged that the archdiocese raked in $46 million more in government aid than was defensible. The archdiocese agreed to pay a roughly $1 million fine to settle the case.

But in the settlement, the Catholic archdiocese also agreed to cooperate with any future investigation. Church Militant spoke with SCSA's general counsel, Helen McGonigle. 

McGonigle: "Being accused of fraud to the tune of $46 million. ... The illegal activity here has to be looked at very closely, and it's our hope that the IRS will do that." 

New Orleans' archbishop, Gregory Aymond, has not responded to SCSA's challenge.

McGonigle: "This is a pretty egregious example of the abuse of the public trust." 

SCSA is fighting for victims of clerical sex abuse who are now seeing their tax dollars abused by the Church.

On top of fraud allegations and mismanagement, the archdiocese of New Orleans filed for bankruptcy last year due to its growing number of sex abuse lawsuits.

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