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NEW ORLEANS (ChurchMilitant.com) - A former New Orleans priest is being indicted on four charges, including raping a teenage boy.
Father Lawrence Hecker was indicted Thursday by Louisiana state prosecutors in New Orleans on charges of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated crime against nature and one count of theft.
Local news station WWL reported, "The crimes allegedly occurred at the now-shuttered St. John Vianney prep school — adjacent to St. Theresa the Little Flower of the Child Jesus church — where Hecker worked in 1975, when the accuser was either a 15- or 16-year-old child, according to the alleged victim's civil attorney, Richard Trahant."
This comes after Hecker had a phone conversation with Our Sunday Visitor, in which he reportedly retracted his previous public confession made to local media outlets. According to OSV, before hanging up the phone, Hecker said that he'd "been advised not to speak" and that "things get twisted around."
Hecker previously admitted to WWL in New Orleans that he committed sexual misconduct with multiple minors. This was the first time Hecker admitted publicly to the acts; although The Guardian obtained Hecker's 1999 confession statement made to the archdiocese of New Orleans.
"By his own admission, he sexually abused or harassed seven teenagers between about 1966 and 1979. Reports of his misconduct led to the 1988 conversation with [Abp. Philip] Hannan," reported WWL. Hecker avoided punishment from Hannan and was later sent to a psychiatric treatment facility in 1999 by Abp. Francis Schulte after further complaints about him were received.
The Guardian noted:
For its part, the clinic concluded that Hecker's grasp on his sexuality and the impact his behavior inflicted on others was minimal. It also explicitly found him to be a pedophile and recommended against allowing him to minister to young people or work with emotionally vulnerable adults, especially because Hecker recounted masturbating another man to whom he brought food in the course of his ministry and whom the Anodos Center described as "retarded."
In 2000, Hecker was allowed back into ministry by Abp. Schulte. WWL detailed that in May of that year, Hecker "was assigned to St. Charles Borromeo in Destrehan, a church with an elementary school attached to it." The Guardian reports that Schulte wrote to Hecker, "I want to thank you ... for your willingness to continue in active ministry in spite of some of the health problems you have experienced."
Fr. Hecker quietly retired in 2002, after the Church's sex abuse scandal in Boston became public. In a previous piece on Hecker, Church Militant documented:
Regarding Lawrence Hecker, Aymond knew the priest was facing at least nine allegations of sex abuse. When one of Hecker's accusers went to the Gretna police in 2012, the police informed the archdiocese. An aide wrote a memo to Aymond that stated, "This is the ninth allegation we have on record against Larry Hecker."
But the archbishop waited until 2018 to acknowledge that Hecker was guilty of homosexual predation and abuse of minors. The archdiocese later reported the ephebophile to law enforcement but only mentioned one of the seven cases Hecker divulged at the time.
Sarah McDonald, the archdiocesan communications director, told OSV that the archdiocese and Abp. Aymond deny any mishandling of sex abuse allegations. The Guardian previously reported that the archbishop ignored six cases of abuse that his review board deemed credible. "Each allegation is complex and unique. A finding of credibility by the internal review board is not a determination of guilt in either canon law or civil law," she wrote via email.
"Over a period of several years beginning in 2010, the archdiocese paid more than $332,000 to reach out-of-court settlements on five complaints alleging sexual abuse by Hecker," disclosed WWL. "Those agreements were among more than 130 abuse-related settlements totaling $11.6 million that the archdiocese paid out during those years."
A local news site reported last week that the diocese is looking to sell off over a half-dozen properties to help settle abuse claims. "More than three years after filing for bankruptcy protection amid mounting claims of child sex abuse by local clergy, the archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to sell off seven properties as a way to generate cash that could be used to help settle those claims," detailed NOLA.com.