Attorneys Seek Records in Case against Priest

By John Desantis
Houma Today
April 9, 2008

HOUMA — Attorneys for a 25-year-old man who says the former pastor of a Morgan City church sexually abused him as a child want details of the investigation church officials are performing.

Court papers filed Tuesday seek a litany of personal information and records concerning the Rev. Etienne LeBlanc, who was placed on administrative leave last year from his duties as pastor of Annunziata Church in Houma.

The Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux is being sued by the Morgan City man, whose named is being withheld by The Courier due to the nature of the acts alleged. The man claims Etienne abused him from the time he was 9 to 14 years old.

Attorneys for the diocese have in court papers stated that the allegations were "vague."

Diocesan spokesman Louis Aguirre said that because the matter is now in litigation the diocese would have no comment. The diocese and LeBlanc are both named in the lawsuit, filed at state District Court in Houma. District Judge Timothy Ellender is presiding over the case.

New Orleans attorney Roger A. Stetter filed the suit on behalf of the alleged victim.

The latest filing in connection with the suit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, asks for items that include Post-It notes and schedules, as well as names of people in the diocesan offices who have been in communication with LeBlanc.

Morgan City detectives have not made an arrest in connection with the allegations, although a criminal complaint was made to them by the alleged victim last year.

Investigators have said they are trying to corroborate his claims with known facts about LeBlanc's time of service.

When the events are alleged to have occurred, LeBlanc was working in the rectory of Holy Cross Church in Morgan City.

There were no witnesses to the alleged incidents, although LeBlanc's accuser said a priest once assigned to Holy Cross saw him leave the rectory in tears after what he described as a primary encounter.

LeBlanc, Liner said, is out of state, but police are aware of his whereabouts. After the allegations were made, LeBlanc, in accordance with diocesan procedure, began to receive counseling and evaluation.

An investigator employed by the diocese, said to be a former agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has been in touch with Liner, and the two have compared notes.

Of particular interest to Liner as well as the diocese are claims by the complainant that other boys were also victimized by LeBlanc. But the complainant has refused to disclose their names and has said those individuals, now grown men, have expressed no interest in coming forward.

Diocesan spokesman Louis Aguirre said the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese "will withhold comment until both the civil and diocesan investigations are completed."


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