‘Children matter’: Victims speaking out after defrocked deacon arrested on rape charge
NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Former deacon George Brignac is behind behind bars Saturday (Sept. 21), facing a first-degree rape charge after was once again accused of sexually assaulting a young boy while teaching at Holy Rosary school.
Now, several of his alleged victims are speaking out about his arrest and what they hope this will do for other victims of clergy sex abuse.
Attorney Roger Stetter is representing Brignac’s alleged victims and said he was overjoyed when he learned of the arrest.
“Glee. Delighted. Thrilled,” Stetter said.
He’s representing a total of 15 of Brignac’s alleged victims, several of whom claim he abused them while teaching at Holy Rosary.
“I kind of locked it up put in a box and put it somewhere I didn’t have to think about it,” one alleged victim said. “I completely forgot about all of it until there were some triggers a couple years ago, then all of a sudden I started having these memories and nightmares.”
This alleged victim said he only remembered the assault two years ago, when it all came flooding back. Two months later, he was Stetter’s client. After Stetter settled his civil case, the attorney said he referred his client to the NOPD, where he gave a recorded statement about the abuse.
“He should have been arrested a year ago,” Stetter said.
Because Stetter said that’s when his client submitted the statement. Overdue or not, Stetter said the arrest is a step forward.
“It’s going to make a lot of Brignac victims feel really good, feel like they really made a difference,” Stetter said.
Morris Daniels is also accusing Brignac of abusing him. He said the damage done is irreversible, but he’s overwhelmed knowing his alleged molester can’t hurt another child.
“Nothing can change what has already happened, the only thing I can do is let others know it’s OK to speak up,” Daniels said. “They need to realize that you do this to a child, you’re going to jail, just like the next man.”
Other accusers said they hope prosecuting Brignac will bring a permanent closure to the abuse and subsequent years of torment.
"I had some many dark days but things have seemed to turn around lately and things are looking up.
For Stetter’s first Brignac accuser -- who asked to remain anonymous -- there’s a sense of dread knowing he’ll have to tell his story at trial.
“Anxiety about having to go through all of it again, but also some small measure of relief that this is going to move forward,” he said.
While this alleged victim said he is looking for justice to be served, Stetter said he believes simply prosecuting Brignac shows he and his clients can make a difference.
“Children matter and we need to stop the abuse before it starts,” he said.
Stetter and the clients who spoke to FOX 8 said they want to see not just the accused molesters face their day in court, but also the church officials who they say allowed the abuse to continue for so long.
Following Brignac’s arrest, the New Orleans Archdiocese released the following statement:
“We too seek truth and justice, and as always, we pledge out full cooperation in the law enforcement investigation.”
Brignac appeared in court Saturday afternoon, where Orleans Magistrate Commissioner Brigid Collins set his bond at $40,000, court records show. According to online court documents, Brignac has no criminal convictions.
Defense attorney Martin Regan represented Brignac during the hearing, court records show.
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