Judge Recuses Himself from Overseeing New Orleans Archdiocese Bankruptcy Proceedings

Posted on: May 23, 2023 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

In May of 2020, the Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for bankruptcy protection after 400-plus clergy sexual abuse lawsuits were filed against it. The sheer number of lawsuits is staggering, considering Louisiana didn’t open a three-year child sex abuse revival window until June of 2021. The investigation into clergy sexual abuse in Louisiana has included the FBI pursuing priests under an anti-sex trafficking law, as well as a judge ordering the Archdiocese of New Orleans to stop paying benefits to priests accused of sexually abusing minors. Now, the federal judge currently overseeing the bankruptcy has recused himself from the proceedings.

U.S. District Judge Greg Guidry recused himself a week after an Associated Press report came out stating the judge donated “tens of thousands of dollars to archdiocese charities and consistently ruled in favor of the church in the contentious case involving nearly 500 clergy sex abuse victims.” While the judge originally refused to step aside after the report, he has since changed his mind. His main reason for recusal is to avoid any appearance of personal bias or prejudice. Unfortunately, his removal may make things more difficult in the short term for the bankruptcy claim. There is legal precedent which could subject every ruling made by a recused judge to review and possible nullification. Should this happen, it could delay the already 3-year-old bankruptcy claim even further.

Most of Guidry’s gifts to the church came in the months after the archdiocese sought bankruptcy protection. In 2017, prior to the bankruptcy, an archdiocese newsletter recognized Guidry and his wife for their previous donations. After being assigned to the church’s bankruptcy, Guidry denied a request to unseal church documents which described how to handle clergy accused of sexually abusing minors. These documents also included the names of over 80 priests who were strongly suspected of sexually abusing children. Recently, Guidry upheld a $400,000 fine against a local attorney who represented clergy abuse victims. Hopefully, these decisions were made free of any bias, but it is easy to see how people might think otherwise.

The entire article can be viewed here.

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