Ted filed his lawsuit in spring 2005
Got media coverage
And other victims came forward.
(From bishop accountability )
6 Allege Abuse at Catholic Home
Suits Claim Rapes and Beatings by Priests, Nuns or Staff in '60s
By Bruce Nolan
The Times-Picayune [New Orleans LA]
August 25, 2005
Half a dozen men have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually molested, beaten and frequently humiliated 40 years ago by nuns, priests and civilian staff members at Madonna Manor, a Catholic home for troubled children in Marrero.
The six lawsuits represent the largest concentration of complaints involving a single institution or individual in the Archdiocese of New Orleans' three-year experience in dealing with complaints of past sexual abuse.
The suits are based on plaintiffs' experiences between the ages of 4 and 14. In many cases they name staff members and recount specific beatings or episodes of rape or sexual molestation.
A few also allege abuse by adult strangers whose identities the plaintiffs hope to learn as the lawsuits' investigative process unfolds. Other complaints are more generalized, describing a climate of physical and psychological abuse in which nuns beat them severely and told them they were worthless, or that no one loved them.
In response, the archdiocese has been poring over old records to reach its own assessment of conditions at Madonna Manor during the 1960s, when the allegations are clustered, said the Rev. William Maestri, the archdiocese's spokesman.
"We want to make sure that where there are victims, we respond appropriately to them," he said. But church investigators have found that the children's records are not up to standards found today, he said. Some records are vague; there are gaps in others. "This is not an easy thing to do over this length of time," he said.
Madonna Manor and an affiliated institution, Hope Haven, are operated by the Archdiocese of New Orleans' charitable arm, formerly called Associated Catholic Charities. At the time of the complaints Madonna Manor was staffed by nuns belonging to the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
Both institutions are on Barataria Boulevard in Marrero.
Madonna Manor was founded in 1933 by a legendary West Bank priest, Monsignor Peter Wynhoven. It was opened to care for orphans or, more frequently, used as a refuge for children whose families were in turmoil. Many youngsters were placed there under court order. In other cases, families unable to care for all their children sent some to be cared for by the church.
Madonna Manor held younger children; Hope Haven across the street held older children and teenagers.
Throughout the 1960s, the period when the men allege their abuse occurred, the institutions enjoyed a full measure of public trust and affection. Secular and religious groups alike sponsored holiday parties and outings for the boys. The Navy invited them to tour visiting warships.
Within the past six weeks, however, four men, Larry Daigle of Kenner, James Harvey of Altadena, Calif.; Keith Porche of Slidell and a man identified only as John Doe of New Orleans, have gone public with claims they were frequently abused at Madonna Manor.
In addition, two other former residents, Stacey Brown of Harvey and Ted Lausche, of Lake Geneva, Wis., recently amplified suits they filed last spring that now allege specific acts of abuse at Madonna Manor by named priests, nuns or other staff members.
Most of the men have not approached the archdiocese on their own about their complaints, Maestri said. But several apparently have been in touch with the local chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
Complaints about Madonna Manor "have been on our radar for more than a couple of years," SNAP spokesman Michael Kuczynski said. "The first thing that impressed us was the severity of the abuse reported. These aren't clich?d single instances of abuse against children, but repeated acts of abuse" by other students, priests, nuns and lay staff members, he said.
Brown and Lausche allege they were raped by Monsignor Raymond Hebert, a priest who retired three years ago as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish.
As one of the most respected senior priests in the archdiocese, Hebert headed the archdiocese's department of clergy. For years it was his duty to investigate complaints of sexual abuse against other priests and make recommendations to the archbishop.
"I certainly deny the charges completely," Hebert said. "I've never abused a child in my life. And I find it very disappointing that the institution itself finds itself under such severe criticism when it's long served as an outstanding child-care institution in this area."
Hebert directed Associated Catholic Charities in the 1960s and said he often visited the home in that capacity. But he said his interests were administrative and budgetary. "I didn't have relationships with the children, and I was never alone with a child," he said.
Maestri said the archdiocese believes Hebert may be the victim of a "misidentification." He noted that Brown said in his suit he "was heavily dosed with psychiatric drugs during most the years he lived at Madonna Manor."
Hebert's 53-year career as a priest is otherwise without blemish, Maestri said. Church investigators believe it strains credulity that Hebert could have surreptitiously raped Brown more than 20 times, as the suit claims.
Among the plaintiffs, Lausche is the only one to have approached the archdiocese before filing suit. But the church's internal review process months ago concluded that Lausche's claim against Hebert was "without semblance of truth," Maestri said. A second inquiry will look at Brown's allegations, he said.
Law enforcement authorities have been notified about Lausche and Brown's allegations and will be told about the other four, Maestri said.
Seven nuns named
The lawsuits allege a wide spectrum of physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the home.
Four of the six plaintiffs claim they were raped or sexually fondled by priests or men they thought were priests; three allege they were sometimes molested by nuns in dormitories at night; five allege they were sexually molested by Madonna Manor's civilian staff or other adults, sometimes off campus.
Several of the plaintiffs focus their complaints on the same staff members.
Among the nuns, the defendants are Sister Martin Marie, Sister Alvin Marie, Sister Gertrude Marie, Sister Mary Omer, Sister Stephen Rose, Sister Laurdette and a nun identified only as Sister Ladet.
Maestri said an investigation by the nuns' order indicated that two are dead; two are aged and mentally incompetent and one left the order and her whereabouts are unknown. The order has no record of another defendant's name. Maestri declined to assign names to those categories.
The men also allege that civilian staff members abused them. Those defendants are Ralph Rutledge, a band leader and bus driver, and Charlie Earhart, sometimes spelled Earhardt, a bus driver and owner of a nearby camp where he allegedly molested them on outings, four of the men said.
Roger Stetter, the New Orleans lawyer who filed the lawsuits, said he believes Earhart died some years ago.
In addition, Lausche names several other defendants, including Brother Dave Brueschere and Brother Patrick Click. No other information about them is given. Lausche also says he was raped by then-priest Gilbert Gauthe, a visitor to Madonna Manor whose exposure as a serial pedophile in later years was the precursor to the national sexual abuse scandal that rocked the church in 2002.
And all allege they lived in an atmosphere of harsh beatings by nuns, including one who, several said, favored a collapsible military shovel as a regular instrument. Two men claimed they were locked in a closet for up to three days as punishment.
"I just remember hate. Just hateful individuals," said Harvey, retired after a career as a military personnel manager. "As I relive this, I can't ever remember a pleasant moment."
Report reflects concerns
Some of the plaintiffs asked to see their files from those years and received reports with portions heavily blacked out, apparently to protect the privacy of other children, said Stetter, the lawyer who has filed the suits.
Brown, however, included in his lawsuit excerpts from a 41-year-old report from Cecile Stone, a social worker who visited him at Madonna Manor in the spring of 1964.
Brown quotes Stone as saying she found him covered with welts from a beating by Sister Laurdette. In a talk with the nun Stone said she "made it clear that it was embarrassing to me as a representative of ACC when I had to speak with parents whose children had been physically abused by one of the sisters on the staff at MM."
A month later, Stone again found "extensive bruises" on Brown's face. Sister Laurdette "admitted that 'she let Stacey have it,' and 'took Stacey into a room alone for several minutes and beat on him,' " Stone wrote.
" 'I told her that I was ashamed that any children entrusted to our care had been treated in this manner," Stone wrote in her notes, according to the suit.
Dealing with the past
In each case the men say they are permanently damaged psychologically and they blocked out memories of the abuse. They say they only recently began to acknowledge and confront their childhood experiences.
Through years of drug abuse, job hopping and coping with his hair-trigger temper, "it was always there, but I never wanted to pay any attention to it. I was just trying to survive" psychologically, said Porche, 49, a Slidell resident who is among the plaintiffs.
But last year Porche was contacted by Lausche who for two years had been using the Internet and other means in Wisconsin to locate as many friends as possible from his days at Madonna Manor.
Lausche and Brown were the first to sue last spring. Media coverage of their cases prompted other plaintiffs to come forward, Stetter said.
By Bruce Nolan
Eight more men who lived as children at Madonna Manor in the 1950s and 1960s have filed a new wave of lawsuits charging they were beaten and occasionally sexually molested at the Catholic institution.
The charges raise the total to 14 men who have filed public accusations of brutality or sexual molestation at the hands of nuns, priests, brothers and civilian staff at the Marrero facility. The home sheltered children from troubled or impoverished families as part of the charitable arm of the Catholic church.
The latest lawsuits were filed in four weeks in January and February. Six lawsuits were filed shortly before Hurricane Katrina.
The concentration of complaints against Madonna Manor is far higher than anything the Archdiocese of New Orleans has seen with regard to any other single institution or person in its experience with allegations of child sexual abuse.
Archdiocesan spokesman the Rev. William Maestri said the archdiocese is looking into the latest allegations.
"We take these seriously," he said. "Once again the archdiocese is in a position of delicate balance, between being responsive to the allegations with all the seriousness they deserve, while at the same time wanting to be ever mindful of the reputations of those who are named in the allegations."
Records are sparse
After the first wave of lawsuits, Maestri said researching the charges was proving difficult. He said the relevant records were four decades old, and in many cases seemed comparatively sparse by contemporary standards. In addition, he said, the details behind some allegations were so scant they were hard to research.
However, flooding by Hurricane Katrina seems not to have damaged those archives and should not further complicate the research, he said.
All the suits name a single defendant, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the successor to the archdiocesan agency that ran Madonna Manor at the time the alleged events occurred.
Several plaintiffs name priests, nuns or civilian employees whose names are not in the institution's records, Maestri said.
All the plaintiffs in the new lawsuits allege that they had no clear memories of the abuse until other former residents began to air similar allegations last summer.
The new plaintiffs are Richard J. Anderson, 58, of Bridge City; Louis Cantero, 53, of New Orleans; Anthony Dixon, 54, of Pearlington; Nolan Franz, 46, of Gulfport; Karl Lamprecht, 48, of Mandeville; Raymond McDonald, 51, of New Orleans; Albert Miller, 48, of Pearl River; and Richard Paul Pete, 49, of Kenner. All the men said they were sent to Madonna Manor as children.
Collectively, their lawsuits describe a harsh psychological and physical environment in which children were sometimes told they were unloved, sometimes severely beaten, and sometimes sexually abused.
Pete, who said he arrived at the institution at age 11, said one nun, Sister Mary Omer, once split his scalp with a flashlight.
Several plaintiffs described a common childhood humiliation of having nuns closely inspect them as they emerged naked from showers.
In addition, all the plaintiffs said they were sexually molested by nuns, priests, or civilian staff workers, sometimes named in the suits.
In many cases they described specific incidents of abuse but said they did not know the names of their abusers. Attorney Roger Stetter, who filed all the suits, said the plaintiffs hoped to identify them as the plaintiffs collected records in the litigation process.
Nuns, monsignor named
At the time of the allegations, Madonna Manor was staffed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Nuns named in the latest suits are Sister Mary Omer; Sister Gertrude Marie, Sister Alvin Marie, Sister Martin Marie and Sister Laurdette. After the first wave of litigation, Maestri said officials in the order informed him that those named were either dead, aged and incompetent, or had left the order and could not be located. He did not assign names to those categories.
In the new suits, Miller, now a New Orleans police officer, alleges he was repeatedly raped by Monsignor Raymond Hebert, who served as chief executive for the agency that ran Madonna Manor. Hebert, who was accused in two earlier suits, retired several years ago as one of the most respected priests in the archdiocese. He retired as director of the department of clergy.
Maestri said earlier that the archdiocese believes Hebert is the victim of a misidentification. He said Hebert denies the allegation, as he has denied the earlier charges.
"I've never abused a child in my life," Hebert said of the earlier accusations.
The earlier accusations were taken before an archdiocesan review board. It found insufficient evidence to remove Hebert from ministry.
The plaintiffs charged that several unidentified priests and others abused them.
In some cases the plaintiffs named specific people as abusers at Madonna Manor or elsewhere, even though church records do not link those persons to the sites, Maestri said.
In addition, the plaintiffs charged that several civilian staff members molested them in various ways. Citing privacy concerns, Maestri declined to confirm civilian employment at Madonna Manor. Many of the staff members have common surnames that make them difficult to trace after more than 40 years. ******