Jailed former New Orleans priest Lawrence Hecker to enter plea Wednesday

WVUE [New Orleans LA]

September 12, 2023

By Ken Daley

Jailed former Catholic priest Lawrence Hecker has been scheduled for arraignment Wednesday (Sept. 13) following his indictment and arrest last week on allegations that he kidnapped, sexually abused and raped a victim while part of the clergy in New Orleans.

Hecker, who turns 92 on Thursday, is being held without a bond since surrendering to authorities last Friday, one day after an Orleans Parish grand jury indicted him on single counts of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated crimes against nature and theft.

Hecker, who faces a lifetime state prison sentence if convicted of the charges, is scheduled to enter his plea Wednesday before Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Benedict Willard.

The indictment follows disturbing revelations that Hecker had previously confessed to molesting multiple teenagers dating as far back as 1966, as reported by documents obtained by The Guardian in June. The documents shed light on a deeply troubling history of abuse and alleged cover-ups within the church.

Hecker oversaw the archdiocese’s scouting program from 1966-72, a position that provided him access to numerous teenagers. Hecker admitted to his superiors in 1999 that he had either sexually molested or shared a bed with multiple teenagers he had met during his tenure as a priest.

In his confession, Hecker attributed his actions to “a time of great change in the world and in the church” and said, “I succumbed to its zeitgeist.”

Former New Orleans priest Lawrence Hecker turned himself in to authorities Sept. 8, a day after being indicted by an Orleans Parish Grand Jury on charges of rape, kidnapping and theft.(OPSO)

The Archdiocese, in a statement, claimed it reported Hecker to authorities multiple times since 2002.

“We have fully cooperated and will continue to cooperate with any law enforcement investigation into Lawrence Hecker,” the statement said.

Hecker continued working for the church until his retirement in 2002 and received retirement benefits until 2020.

“We are going to expedite this prosecution because I don’t want him to die before we get a chance to prosecute him,” Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams said last week.

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