New Orleans Archdiocese confirms in 1999 they confronted accused child molester, wasn’t arrested until 2023

WDSU [New Orleans]

September 19, 2023

By Aubry Killion

WDSU Investigates is digging deeper into new claims against a 92-year-old former priest now in jail accused of rape and kidnapping.

The case against Lawrence Hecker rocked the New Orleans catholic church to its core, with alleged abuse from his arrest dating back to the 1970s.

The new allegations are separate from the criminal charges Hecker is facing.

In these new claims, one of Hecker’s accusers alleges while being an altar server in 1983, Hecker allegedly had him and other young boys strip down naked to “inspect” them.

His accuser alleges that it is their belief the archdiocese of New Orleans was aware, or became aware, of Hecker’s sexual molestation of children prior to this incident.

In a separate claim, one of Hecker’s accusers alleges abuse during the early 1980s.

In another location, his accuser says he and Hecker went to walk in the woods and see a stream.

The accuser alleges at one point, Hecker started to come towards him. The accuser alleges it was predatory, scary, and fierce. His accuser says Hecker grabbed him and threw him down in the creek and straddled his back. He acted at first like he was just kidding around and mock wrestling but then the accuser realized his pants partially were down, according to the allegation.

Hecker’s accuser alleges Hecker pressed himself on him while holding him down.

The accuser also alleges it is their belief that the Archdiocese of New Orleans was aware, or became aware, of Hecker’s sexual molestation of children prior to this incident.

In June 2023, WDSU Investigates tracked Hecker down.

“There is good and bad in everybody,” Hecker said.

WDSU asked Hecker if he’d ever touched a child.

“Oh my goodness, you mean touch a child?” Hecker said.

WDSU also asked him, “Have you ever physically or sexually assaulted a child?”

“I am afraid there’s some trick or something. I just don’t want to get involved with all this,” Hecker said.

WDSU also asked, “Have you ever in your life as a former priest touched a child?”

“No comment,” Hecker said.

In September 2023, Hecker was arrested for rape and kidnapping charges for the abuse alleged to have happened in the 1970s.

Hecker has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

The Archdiocese issued WDSU the following statement:

“The Archdiocese had no knowledge of these allegations until recently filed as claims in the Chapter 11 proceeding and does not know if these claimants have directly contacted law enforcement with information involving their claims. The Archdiocese of New Orleans has provided these affidavits to law enforcement as part of its continuing cooperation in the ongoing criminal investigation. Lawrence Hecker was removed from ministry in 2002, 6 years prior to Archbishop Aymond becoming Archbishop of New Orleans. Since 2002, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has reported allegations against Hecker to law enforcement in several jurisdictions multiple times. In 2018, Archbishop Aymond included Lawrence Hecker on a list of clergy removed from ministry for allegations of abuse of a minor making the allegations against Hecker public.”

WDSU asked what year Hecker spoke to his superiors about any sexual abuse he allegedly committed.

“In 1999, archdiocesan leadership, under the direction of Archbishop Schulte, confronted Hecker with an allegations of abuse occurring in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. In 1999, Hecker submitted a document in which Hecker alleges a conversation with Archbishop Hannan in 1988 about a report by parents that their son had disclosed to them he had a sexual relationship with Hecker years earlier. It is not clear from the file whether this individual was a minor at the time.”