New Orleans priest arrested again on sexual abuse of minor charge

Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

October 29, 2022

By Joe Bukuras

An Archdiocese of New Orleans priest who is scheduled to be tried in January on child sex abuse charges was arrested again Oct. 25 on an additional molestation charge. 

Father Patrick Wattigny was arrested by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office located in Southeastern Louisiana after an investigation was initiated by a sexual abuse complaint brought to the office in August. 

Wattigny’s bond was set at $75,000, according to The outlet reported that as of Wednesday afternoon he was still in jail.

“The victim, who is an adult now, disclosed that he was abused by Wattigny while he was an elementary student at a Covington-area Catholic school,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement about the new arrest. 

According to the sheriff’s office, Wattigny was booked into the St. Tammany Parish Correctional Center on one count of molestation of a juvenile.

“It is deeply disturbing when an individual in a position of authority uses that position to prey on the most defenseless of our population — our children,” Sheriff Randy Smith said in the statement.

The investigation is ongoing, according to the statement.

Wattigny, 55, was originally arrested in October 2020 and entered a plea of not guilty to molestation of a juvenile that allegedly occurred in 2013, according to The archdiocese announced Wattigny’s removal from ministry Oct. 1, 2020. 

At the time of Wattigny’s removal from ministry, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond wrote in a statement: “Reverend Patrick Wattigny disclosed today his sexual abuse of a minor in 2013. His name will be added to the list of the Archdiocese of New Orleans Clergy Abuse Report. Law enforcement has been notified.” 

Wattigny’s trial in the original case is expected for January 2023, according to 

The Associated Press reported in July that the FBI had launched an investigation into the decades-long clergy sexual abuse in New Orleans. The FBI is investigating whether federal charges, including charges under the Mann Act, can be used in prosecution.