The school's principal, Douglas Triche, wrote to parents this week saying that he had not been notified about the inappropriate texts sent by Wattigny. But Arata raised objections to Triche's claims.
Triche told parents, Arata said, "that he may have heard rumors, but he did not know. Who'd he hear the rumors from? When did he hear the rumors? Why didn't he act when he heard them? Those are questions I would automatically ask."
The principal could not be reached by CNA for comment.
Arata told CNA that he believes the archdiocese had reason to be suspicious of Wattigny when the text messages were initially reported.
"The archdiocese has moved him seven times in 26 years. The average contract is five years, right? Help me understand, that's 3.7 years per place. Why'd you move him? And then they want us to believe that the first time they ever heard of an issue at Rummel was on Thursday, October 1, 2020?" Wattigny asked.
The lawyer also said that he supplied additional text messages from the priest to students after the initial batch in February, and that he was told it was being handled. Then in June, he says he was told the priest was being sent for a psychological evaluation.
The lawyer said that if the text messages to students did not represent a problem, the archdiocese would have had no reason to send the priest for an evaluation. He said sending the priest for an evaluation confirms that the archdiocese knew the texts were not appropriate.
In a statement on Friday, in which New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond addressed the situations of Wattigny and Fr. Travis Clark, a New Orleans priest arrested for filming pornographic videos on an altar, Aymond said that Wattigny would never again serve in public ministry.
Aymond said of the 2013 abuse, "there was no prior accusation and we knew nothing about the abuse before Oct. 1."
The archbishop repeated his claim that "the texts did not indicate abuse and there was no allegation of sexual abuse. I am sorry for the pain that this has caused."
After the archbishop released his statement, CNA asked the archdiocese who at the archdiocese had evaluated the texts, and whether the archdiocese considered them to constitute grooming behavior.
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"We stand by the assertion that they are not sexual in nature and did not indicate abuse but were a violation of our Technology Policy," a spokesperson for the archdiocese told CNA.
Arata, whose child is a student at John Paul II High School, told CNA that he and his clients are weighing options regarding the possibility of litigation.
Jonah McKeown contributed to this report.