Denver Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 12:04 pm
Federal authorities are investigating alleged sex abuse of minors by New Orleans-area Catholic clergy, sometimes going back decades, on the grounds that the accused men could have violated a federal anti-sex trafficking law by crossing state lines. The investigation could provide another means for abuse victims to make their case against their abusers, and possibly file sex abuse lawsuits against Catholic dioceses and other organizations.
The FBI is probing whether accused priests can be prosecuted under various charges including the Mann Act, which bars taking anyone across state lines for illicit sex. Though some criminal claims may date back to the 1970s, the Mann Act has no statute of limitations. The Louisiana State Police is aiding the inquiry.
Federal prosecutors have used the Mann Act to help convict Ghislaine Maxwell, a leading figure in the Jeffrey Epstein sex abuse ring, and music star R. Kelly. In 2013, a Baptist pastor was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for taking a 16-year-old girl across state lines for illicit purposes.
Federal authorities have interviewed more than a dozen alleged victims this year, the Associated Press reports. Some of the victims allege they were abused by a New Orleans-based priest on trips to Mississippi camps or Texas and Florida amusement parks.