As of October 1st, 2020, Reverends Patrick Wattigny and Travis Clark have been removed from their ministries.
Patrick Wattigny, a former reverend assigned to Pope John Paul II High School, St. Elizabeth Anne Seton, and St. Peter among other locations, came forward to report that he had sexually abused a minor in 2013. This report of the minor's sexual abuse was revealed due to the investigations into Wattigny's inappropriate behavior as Chaplain of Pope John Paul II High School in Slidell.
Wattigny had been under disciplinary investigation by the New Orleans Archdiocese for sending a student at Pope John Paul II unprofessional text messages that could constitute as "grooming." As a result of the investigation, Wattigny resigned from his post, as well as reported himself for sexual abuse. Wattigny has now been added to the New Orleans Archdiocese Clergy Abuse Report list.
Along with Wattigny, former Reverend Travis Clark has also been removed from ministry for obscenity with women. However, the Archdiocese has confirmed that the charge does not involve a minor.
In response to these incidences, SNAP New Orleans released a statement calling out the Archdiocese of New Orleans to take immediate action and outreach to prevent further incidents and encourage any other victims to come forward.
"This story is yet another example that the sexual abuse crisis in the catholic church (and New Orleans) is not a "thing of the past," as church officials have claimed for years. This news sends a clear message that parents and parishioners must remain vigilant when it comes to leaving children alone with older adults and to to watch out for signs of grooming or abuse. When communities are informed, abuse can be prevented, and we hope this news will encourage more people to learn more about the realities of sexual violence and what role they can play in preventing future sex crimes" the report stated.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond responded as well, saying, "Both of these situations are very troubling to me. When a priest does not live out his vocation faithfully he suffers consequences and I must notify the parishioners, school families, and public in general.
Please pray for all those affected, especially the parishioners of the parishes and school communities where they have served."