Sexual Abuse Survivors Ask for AG Investigation into Diocese of Lake Charles
By Theresa Schmidt
August 1, 2019
Three months ago, the Diocese of Lake Charles released a list of credibly accused clergy which included the names of eleven priests, eight of whom are dead.
But some complain the list is far from transparent and have asked the Louisiana attorney general to investigate.
In 2016, ex-priest Mark Broussard was convicted of sexual offenses against children and is serving two life sentences plus fifty years. When the Diocese released its list of credibly accused priests, it said allegations regarding Broussard were received by the Diocese in 1994 and 2009. Yet some say the diocese knew sooner.
Richard Windmann, himself a victim, is the Louisiana leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also called SNAP.
They advocate for full disclosure statewide.
"These priests, that have been entrusted with the church, they don't own the church. The administrators, the governance of the church, it's the people in the pews that are the church. And when they leave there's not going to be a church. And it won't be because of the actions of victims and survivors. It will be because of the actions of priests and archbishops and bishops who cover it up,” said Windmann.
Some alleged local survivors--who do not wish to be identified--say there’s a local cover-up and want complete transparency about who knew what and when.
SNAP has asked the Louisiana attorney general to investigate the Lake Charles Diocese and others in the state.
"What we really need is real law enforcement to go in there and find out what's there and so we know," said Windmann.
Windmann says it's a problem across the country.
“The victims lack a sense of justice has been done in these cases and not just in the individual cases but, what we’re finding out, and it’s kind of hard to believe, is that the cover-up is starting to eclipse the actual abuse. And so, understandably, survivors and victims are outraged,” he said.
Attorney General Jeff Landry says he has no ability to prosecute anybody unless there's a recusal of a DA in a local judicial district or if a DA specifically asks for assistance.
Further, Landry says, “As a father, I am troubled by the allegations and my heart goes out to those who have been victimized. As Attorney General, I have consistently urged victims of abuse by a member of clergy – or anyone else in our State - to come forward and report it. Anyone needing assistance can call my office’s LBI (Louisiana Bureau for Investigation) Hotline at 1-800-256-4506, and we will connect them to the proper authorities including local law enforcement or the District Attorney with jurisdiction.”
“Loyola law school professor Dane Ciolino said the state’s powerful district attorneys have succeeded in limiting the attorney general’s powers in Louisiana, more so than in most other states. He described Louisiana as "on the end of the spectrum where local DAs enjoy a great deal of exclusive power and autonomy," said Landry.
As for Landry, “I think he’s right on this,” Ciolino said. “He doesn’t have any ability to prosecute anybody unless there’s a recusal of a DA in a local judicial district or if a DA specifically asks for assistance.”
Any attempt by Landry to investigate the church or clergy abuse on his own would be a stretch, Ciolino said. He also agreed with Landry that Louisiana State Police are better equipped than his office to investigate complaints of clergy sex abuse.”
The Diocese stands by its list released in April saying it’s both accurate and thorough and referred us to a more recent statement on the Diocese web site and also distributed in church bulletins recently.