‘The whole truth’: Bankruptcy judge urged to unseal records of alleged abusive New Orleans priest

Times Picayune / New Orleans Advocate

July 10, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

Attorneys for a man who alleges he was preyed upon by a New Orleans priest wants a federal bankruptcy judge to unseal reams of confidential documents outlining how the Archdiocese of New Orleans handled accusations against the cleric.

The plaintiff’s attorneys first asked an Orleans Parish Civil District Court judge in early March to allow for the public release of those documents, and The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, along with WWL, WDSU and WVUE, joined in the request, arguing that the documents held information which community members could use to protect themselves from the still-living priest, Lawrence Hecker.

But the archdiocese’s decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections halted that push indefinitely, along with lawsuits from the plaintiff and dozens of others whose cases were automatically stayed and transferred from state court to federal court.

Late Thursday, the plaintiff’s legal team filed a motion requesting that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Grabill, who’s presiding over the archdiocese’s reorganization filing, make the documents “immediately available to the public.”

“Knowing the whole truth without limitation is an important part” of clergy abuse survivors’ ability to retake “control of events that caused so much pain they have been forced to carry in silence for so long,” said the motion, prepared by attorneys Richard Trahant, John Denenea and Soren Gisleson, who represent dozens of clerical molestation claimants.

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