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New Orleans priest arrested again on minor charges of sexual abuse

According to the sheriff’s office, Father Wattigny was committed to St. Tammany Parish Correctional Center on one count of molesting a juvenile.

A priest from the Archdiocese of New Orleans, who is due to be tried in January on charges of child molestation, was arrested on Oct. 25 for additional molestation.

Father Patrick Wattigny was arrested by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office in southeast Louisiana after a sex abuse investigation was opened in August.

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Father Wattigny’s bail was set at $75,000, according to Nola.com. The outlet reported that he was still in jail as of Wednesday afternoon.

“The victim, who is now an adult, disclosed that he was molested by Wattigny while he was an elementary student at a Covington-area Catholic school,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement about the new arrest.

According to the sheriff’s office, Father Wattigny was committed to St. Tammany Parish Correctional Center on one count of molesting a juvenile.

“It is deeply disturbing when a person in a position of authority uses that position to prey on the most vulnerable of our population — our children,” Sheriff Randy Smith said in the statement.

The investigation is ongoing, the statement said.

Father Wattigny, 55, was originally arrested in October 2020 and pleaded not guilty to charges of molesting a youth that allegedly took place in 2013, according to Nola.com. The Archdiocese announced Wattigny’s impeachment on October 1, 2020.

At the time of Father Wattigny’s impeachment, Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond wrote in a statement: “Reverend Patrick Wattigny today disclosed his sexual abuse of a minor in 2013. His name will be added to the Archdiocese of New Orleans clergy’s list of abuse reports. Law enforcement has been notified.”

The trial of Father Wattigny in the original case is expected in January 2023, according to nola.com.

The Associated Press reported in July that the FBI had launched an investigation into decades of clerical sex abuse in New Orleans. The FBI is investigating whether federal charges, including Mann Act charges, can be used to prosecute.

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