New Orleans Archdiocese Hands Over Sealed Documents

News: US News
by William Mahoney, Ph.D.  •  •  June 16, 2023   

District attorney investigating alleged homosexual predator priest

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NEW ORLEANS ( - The New Orleans district attorney's office says it is in possession of "voluminous documents" concerning an alleged homosexual predator priest after Louisiana's archdiocese handed over those documents as part of a federal hearing in which the judge has yet to rule.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams

(Photo: Louisiana District Attorneys' Association)

Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams recently confirmed he received from the New Orleans Archdiocese records that pertain to 91-year-old Fr. Lawrence Hecker.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the archdiocese asserted the Church "turned over everything in their possession" regarding Fr. Hecker.

Hecker is being investigated for abusing male children decades earlier.

Aaron Hebert, a man who in 2019 accused Hecker of abusing him when he was a minor, along with district attorney Williams and some media outlets that include the Associated Press, requested the release of documentation pertaining to Fr. Hecker.

That documentation is sealed owing to the archdiocese's unresolved 2020 bankruptcy case.

Federal Hearing

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo heard arguments regarding whether to unseal the Church documents along with Fr. Hecker's 2020 deposition.

The attorney for Hecker's alleged victims, Richard Trahant, argued the New Orleans archdiocese knew of the allegations in the 1980s but did nothing until 2002, upon the priest's retirement.

It was not until 2018 that the New Orleans archdiocese listed Fr. Hecker as a "credibly accused" priest.

This is an attack against the Archdiocese.

While Milazzo and the attorney for the archdiocese, Dirk Wegmann, characterized Fr. Hecker's depositions as rambling and hard to understand, Wegmann argued the request to unseal that deposition and other pertinent documents was motivated by considerations other than Fr. Hecker.

"This is an attack against the Archdiocese," Wegmann told CBS-affiliated WWL Channel 4 in New Orleans. "This is an attack on a debtor in bankruptcy. Their real intent in taking the deposition was not to make a claim against Father Hecker. It was to make a claim against the Archdiocese."


News Report: New Orleans Files Bankruptcy

But Trahant argued Wegmann's claims are contradicted by information contained in the sealed records themselves — something he was prevented from explaining owing to the sealed nature of those records.

Alleged victim Aaron Hebert, who is represented by Trahant, was out of town during the hearing. But upon learning details of the proceedings, he told CBS-affiliated WWL-TV, "We are not 'liabilities' like the archdiocese says in the bankruptcy."

"It's become time for them to atone for their sins of sexual abuse, deceit, corruption and non-transparency," he added.

I am afraid of some trick involved or something. 

District Judge Milazzo explained she would take all the arguments into consideration, but she has yet to rule.

Before the hearing, the judge asked if anybody thought she should recuse herself because she attended Catholic school, attends church with her husband and makes donations. Nobody objected to her judicial involvement in the case.

Fr. Lawrence Hecker

On Thursday, NBC-affiliated WDSU spoke with Fr. Hecker about the district attorney's investigation.

Fr. Lawrence Hecker was confronted by a New Orleans reporter

"It's hard to sum up in a couple of words — what makes somebody good, what makes somebody bad," Hecker said. "There's good and bad in everybody."

Pressed to address whether he ever touched a child, the priest responded, "Oh my goodness, you mean touched a child?"

The interviewer then asked Hecker more directly if he ever physically or sexually assaulted a child.

He answered, "I am afraid of some trick involved or something. I just don't want to get involved with all this."

When asked again if he ever touched a child, the priest said, "No comment."

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