2 accused predator priests may be deposed despite New Orleans church’s bankruptcy case

Times-Picayune and Advocate

November 4, 2020

By David Hammer and Ramon Antonio Vargas

Judge ends stay that was blocking purported victims from taking sworn testimony of alleged abusers

A bankruptcy judge has ended a stay that was blocking purported victims of child abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic clergy from taking the sworn testimony of their alleged abusers while the Archdiocese of New Orleans is protected from its creditors.

The church has used its bankruptcy proceedings to fight to keep two elderly priests, whom the archdiocese acknowledges are likely child molesters, from having to testify in lawsuits that accuse them of sexually abusing minors decades ago.

But U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Grabill rejected the archdiocese’s argument that the church’s interests were “intertwined” with those of the accused priests, Paul Calamari, 76, and Lawrence Hecker, 89, and that allowing either to be deposed would divert attention and resources from the archdiocese’s Chapter 11 case.

Grabill’s ruling could set up explosive and damaging testimony under oath from two of about eight surviving diocesan priests whom Archbishop Gregory Aymond has named as suspected child molesters. Court filings suggest that the plaintiffs’ legal team would seek to use the questioning in part to determine how church officials — including Aymond and his predecessors — managed Calamari and Hecker after learning of the allegations against them.

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