Quest for facts in clergy abuse allegation leaves indelible question marks

The Times-Picayune

November 27, 2018

By Kim Chatelain

Last week, I reached into the depths of a guest bedroom closet and retrieved a fancy white album containing photos of our wedding in 1984.

Naturally, I was somewhat amazed by how young both my wife and I looked in the photos. But what really struck me was the marriage license that was affixed to the back page of the album, which included the signature of the priest who married us – Father Louis LeBourgeois.

A few weeks earlier, I had interviewed a woman in California who reached out to me after reading stories I’d written about clergy abuse in the Catholic Church. She wanted to share her story in hopes it would help other survivors.

She claimed that it was LeBourgeois who had abused her in 1968, when she was just shy of five years old and living in River Ridge. After listening to LindaLee Stonebreaker’s story over the course of several telephone interviews, one thing became crystal clear in the mind of this lifelong Catholic – this was going to be one of the most difficult stories I would handle in my 40 years in journalism.

Although she had never gone public with her story, Stonebreaker said the recent spate of clergy abuse news accounts prompted her to speak out. I spent weeks trying to verify the story, with at least part of me hoping that my research would prove that the claim was at least partially false.

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