New Orleans priest admits to ‘sin’ with teen student, still wants retirement payments restarted

Times Picayune / New Orleans Advocate

May 19, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

Clergy abuse claimant says she is ‘strongly opposed to any predator priest or clergy receiving any funds from the archdiocese,’ which recently declared bankruptcy

As a federal bankruptcy judge weighs whether to reverse her order halting payments from the Archdiocese of New Orleans to suspected clergy child molesters, a second priest facing abuse accusations has come forward to ask the judge not to halt the payments.

A filing Monday asking for the reinstatement of payments came from retired clergyman Paul Calamari, who was named by Archbishop Gregory Aymond on his list of credibly-accused priests. In the filing, Calamari concedes that in 1973 he had a “failing” and a “sin” involving a 17-year-old high school boy whom Calamari — then a lay teacher turning 30 — mistakenly believed was 18. An abuse claim stemming from that encounter landed Calamari on the list.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Grabill, who has tentatively set a hearing on the matter for late Wednesday afternoon, has also received a signed declaration from a woman who said a priest molested her in 1968, when she wasn’t even 5. The petition from Linda Lee Stonebreaker, whose father Steve Stonebreaker played for the New Orleans Saints, requested that Grabill stick with her decision on halting payments.

The issue turns on a ruling from Grabill on May 4, three days after the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, that ordered the immediate halt to any payments for priests who had been credibly accused of child abuse.

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