NEW ORLEANS – Yesterday, District Attorney Jason Williams announced the Grand Jury indictment of former New Orleans Catholic Priest Lawrence Hecker for sex abuse crimes that occurred from January 1, 1975, to December 31, 1976. The Orleans Parish Special Grand Jury returned indictments charging Hecker with Aggravated Rape, Aggravated Kidnapping, Aggravated Crime Against Nature and Theft.
“We fought vigorously through the courts and behind the scenes for the disclosure of all information and evidence, including previously sealed testimony, related to the serious reports of serial child sexual abuse at the hands of Lawrence Hecker,” said District Attorney Jason Williams. “We have always believed that we, as prosecutors, should not be deprived of evidence of crime simply due to the reputation of a subject. Historically, these matters have gone uninvestigated or reached dead ends due to the cone of silence and protection too often afforded to those we place in positions of trust and confidence. The physical, emotional and mental harm from sexual abuse lasts a lifetime. Many survivors have felt hopeless and irreparably harmed by the acts Lawrence Hecker committed against them. The innocence and youth stolen from multiple children, who revered and respected Hecker as a protector, cannot be regained.
According to New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) reports, Hecker raped and kidnapped the victim on January 1, 1975 and December 31, 1976.
First Assistant Edward McGowan said, “Justice has been delayed and denied to the victims of Father Lawrence Hecker for decades. He was hidden in plain sight, moved from assignment to assignment, and put in contact with victims over and over again. Today is the first step to imposing accountability for his crimes. I want to thank the victims and witnesses who through their bravery and resilience came forward to provide statements for this case. I also want to thank Agent Rodrigue who through his hard work, professionalism, and diligence gathered the evidence in this decades old case.”
DA Williams continued, “The traumatic effects of those events from years ago are no doubt reawakened by this process and the dozens of media reports that led up to this point. But our greatest hope is that this new opportunity to achieve truth and accountability for these heinous acts can assist in the restoration of those lives and a sense of closure… This Grand Jury determination is a significant step, but just the first step in the ultimate pursuit of justice. We are ready for the fight to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in this case, and send a far-reaching missive that anyone conspiring to hurt our children and hide behind the veil of an institution will be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
If convicted in Criminal District Court, the defendant could face life imprisonment for these crimes.