Before priest Pat Wattigny admitted sex abuse, texts to student led to resignation from Slidell school, church says


October 2, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas and David Hammer

About four months before the Rev. Patrick Wattigny disclosed to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans that he sexually abused a minor in 2013, he resigned from his post as chaplain at Pope John Paul II High School because he had sent a student a series of text messages that violated diocesan policies, church officials said Friday.

An attorney representing the student’s family alleged the messages constituted “grooming” for sexual activity, including repeatedly asking the boy the date of his 18th birthday. A statement from the archdiocese denied that any of the messages contained sexual references “or innuendo,” but they nonetheless represented a breach of archdiocesan policy mandating professionally toned communications with students.

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