Suspended Metairie deacon focus of criminal child rape investigation, JPSO confirms


November 19, 2020

By David Hammer

Deputies have not booked the deacon with any crime, and prosecutors have not filed charges.

A Catholic deacon from Metairie who was suspended from public ministry this summer is now under criminal investigation over accusations that he raped a pre-teen boy 20 years ago, according to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office report released this week.

The initial report on the case shows an unidentified man met with a personal violence investigator at the Sheriff’s Office detectives’ bureau on Oct. 21 and recounted how he had been sexually abused between January 2000 and December 2001, when he was less than 13 years old. He said the abuse occurred at a home on Hector Avenue in Metairie, at the hands of a man who is now 62.

Land records show that the home in question was owned at the time by Virgil Maxey “V.M.” Wheeler III, 62, a prominent New Orleans lawyer who was ordained a deacon in 2018 but was removed from ministry in August over unspecified abuse allegations dating back two decades.

The property on Hector, which Wheeler sold in 2019, is just two blocks from St. Francis Xavier Parish on Metairie Road, where Wheeler served as a deacon.

The police report doesn’t name Wheeler, but Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jason Rivarde on Thursday confirmed that Wheeler is the suspect referenced in the report.

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