Attorney for Church Abuse Victim Says More Alleged Victims Are Coming Forward
By Rob Masson
June 28, 2018
The lawyer for a sexual abuse victim who landed a large settlement against the Archdiocese said more potential victims are coming forward. The victim said things should have never gone this far.
Attorney Roger Stetter has litigated nearly 80 cases against the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Last week, Stetter landed a half-million-dollar settlement from the Archdiocese for a man who said teacher and former Deacon George Brignac raped and sexually abused him at Holy Rosary Church.
"Fondled me at the school, at his desk, in his car and in his home," said the victim.
Stetter said more alleged victims are now calling his office.
"I've already had a couple, three, calls," Stetter said. "I have a client coming in Thursday, another at Holy Rosary next week. I think there will be others."
Brignac taught at three local Catholic schools in the late 1970s. The Jefferson Parish D.A.'s office prosecuted him for allegedly abusing three young boys at St. Matthew's in River Ridge back in 1978. Brignac was acquitted, and the Archdiocese then moved him across parish lines to Holy Rosary school in New Orleans.
It was there, in 1979, that the victim we spoke to accused Brignac of abusing him for three years, beginning when he was 8 years old.
"I was an altar boy, and the church in it's infinite wisdom decided to make him head of the altar boys," said the victim. " Raped me. Many different occasions in different places," said the victim.
He said he repressed the memories of the abuse until a year ago.
"The memory flooded back to me after my mom saw him in the grocery store, mentioned to me that she had seen him and he asked about me, and said to make sure she tells me that he loved me," the victim said. "She also had cards that I had hidden in my room when I was younger that he had written to me, and she gave me those, as well."
He said his parents had no idea of the sexual abuse, but there were problem signs.
"Our recollection differs," the victim said. "In my recollection, he put a hicky on my face and she noticed it. I told her that he had pinched me, and she said I don't want you to go around him."
The victim said the settlement will help him heal.
"It will help pay for counseling that my family and I think I need to get through this," he said. "Looking back on mental health issues and physical issues, I can attribute that to the abuse that he put me through."
Last week the Archdiocese of New Orleans sent out a pastoral letter to Our Lady of Holy Rosary parishioners addressing Brignac's sexual abuse allegations.
"I don't know what's going to happen with these cases or how many boys will come forward," said Stetter.
Stetter said even though the abuse happened 40 years ago, the scars remain.
For his part, Archbishop Gregory Aymond was not available to go on camera Wednesday, but he offered this statement:
"My heart and my prayers go out to the victims of sexual abuse. We take all allegations seriously and investigate them thoroughly. I continue to offer to meet with victims to share with them our compassion and sincere concern of the church and to enable healing to begin."
"As a child, I felt guilty, scared and intimidated, and I didn't express to anybody what was going on - even my mom and dad," said the victim.
Reporter: "Are you religious?"
Victim: "Not particularly"
Reporter: "Did that abuse take that away from you?"
The church is vowing to do more to prevent the problem, saying no one should suffer abuse by a church leader.
We reached out to former teacher George Brignac by phone this afternoon and were told there would be no comment.
Attorney Roger Stetter said he is now talking to several more alleged victims, including one man who says Brignac abused him at a River Ridge church - before the Holy Rosary incidents.