(RepublicanNews.org) – After years of denial, a former priest in the Archdiocese of New Orleans finally admitted to a reporter that he abused children under his purview for three decades. Lawrence Hecker’s on-camera acknowledgment came after being confronted with internal church documents from 1999 that contained the priest’s first-hand confession to church leaders.
Hecker, now 91, was ordained in 1958. His confession to church leadership before the turn of the century indicated that he had engaged in “overtly” intimate “acts” with at least seven underage boys stretching from the late 1960s through the 1980s. Allegations of molestation had already been following Hecker for over a decade at the time of his 1999 confession.
Philip Hannan, the Archbishop for New Orleans at the time, was reported to have confronted Hecker as early as 1988, but the priest was able to convince his senior that he had never engaged inappropriately with any children. It was not until 1999 that Hecker was again challenged by church leadership following continued accusations of pedophilia.
It was during that confrontation that Hecker admitted to multiple decades of abuse of several children in his congregation. Rather than pursue Hecker legally, leadership opted to send the priest to an out-of-state psychiatric facility.
While there, he received a pedophilia diagnosis along with a recommendation from staff that he not be allowed to work with children or other “vulnerable people.” Following his stay, the priest was transferred to a smaller parish, where he continued his work in the clergy until his 2002 retirement.
The church where he ended his career was also attached to an elementary school. During his on-camera admissions, Hecker told the reporter that he was under the impression he had been cleared to safely work around parishioners.
One of Hecker’s alleged victims has reportedly been meeting with law enforcement and the New Orleans DA has indicated that they will be reviewing any “admissible evidence of guilt” in the case.
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