Stephen Sauer, former priest who ran agency for disabled, booked with sex crimes

WWL-TV [New Orleans LA]

December 15, 2021

By Mike Perlstein

The executive director of Arc of Greater New Orleans has been arrested on five counts of video voyeurism and one count of sexual battery, according to court records.

Stephen Sauer, 59, remains behind bars in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center, pending a court hearing Thursday. 

ArcGNO, with headquarters in Metairie, provides services to mentally disabled people in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes. Sauer’s LinkedIn profile says he has been at the helm of the nonprofit since January 2017.

Records also show Sauer was a Jesuit priest, listing him as pastor of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans from 2008 to 2012. A spokesperson for the Society of Jesus said Sauer left the order “at his own request in 2020.”

Sauer, who lives in Metairie, posted on LinkedIn that he has served on a number of local boards, including as a trustee of Loyola University in New Orleans and Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. He also lists himself as cofounder and former chairman of Hotel Hope, a New Orleans nonprofit that provides shelter for homeless families. 

By Tuesday evening, about 24 hours after his arrest, Sauer had been erased from ArcGNO’s website. 

“Mr. Sauer is no longer employed by Arc of Greater New Orleans, and chief administrative officer Sandee Williamson has been appointed to serve as acting executive director,” the organization said. “Ms. Williamson and the ArcGNO team will focus on ensuring the organization’s work continues with minimal disruption. The stability of ArcGNO and safety of its clients are the organization’s top priorities. We have pledged our full cooperation to the authorities in this matter.”

Details of the crimes Sauer is accused of committing have not been disclosed, particularly whether the allegations are linked to his work. Video voyeurism is punishable by a prison sentence of as long as two years, while sexual battery carries a maximum of 10 years.

Capt. Jason Rivarde, spokesperson for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, said Sauer was arrested Monday at about 5 p.m. He said he couldn’t elaborate on the arrest, and that detectives are in the early stages of the investigation.

“It’s going to be a very extensive investigation, a minimum of several weeks,” Rivarde said. “We do believe there may be more victims.”

Sauer was being held without bail under a provision of a 2014 Louisiana law that allows authorities to keep suspects locked up for up to five days without bail as a cooling-off period. 

That law typically applies in cases of domestic abuse, but a section does apply to people accused of committing sexual battery against someone who is not a domestic partner, Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino said. He is scheduled for a bond hearing Thursday. 

Rivarde said anyone with additional information may call the Sheriff’s Office personal violence section at (504) 364-5300.