Revealed: New Orleans archdiocese concealed serial child molester for years

Lawrence Hecker, “serial” pedophile, never really investigated

An investigation by The Guardian reveals that the last four Catholic archbishops of New Orleans went to great lengths to conceal the activities of a known serial pedophile who is still alive but has never been prosecuted. This investigation is based on formerly secret church documents that provide the most comprehensive account to date of how America’s oldest Catholic archdiocese protected child molester Lawrence Hecker.

In 1999, Hecker confessed to his superiors in the Archdiocese of New Orleans that he had sexually abused and shared the beds of several teenagers he met in the course of his work as a Roman Catholic priest. These acts took place over a 15-year period beginning in the mid-1960s. In a statement to local church authorities, Hecker acknowledged his actions and referred to the context of the time, which was marked by significant changes in the world and the church.

Despite his confession, Hecker was allowed to continue in his position after being sent to an out-of-state psychiatric treatment center. Although recommendations were made to prevent him from working with children or vulnerable people, he was allowed to continue his ministry until his retirement in 2002. Archdiocesan authorities failed to report all allegations against Hecker to the police, even when confronted with additional allegations from other victims.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans waited until 2018 to release a list of priests and deacons suspected of sexually abusing minors, finally identifying Hecker as a predator. What’s more, the archdiocese continued to pay Hecker his pension until 2020, citing a moral obligation to all clergy.

The journalistic investigation does not mention whether Hecker will ultimately be charged, but it does report an ongoing investigation by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, following a complaint filed by an alleged victim. The facts date back several decades, and the statute of limitations is not an obstacle in child rape cases in Louisiana.