Fr. Lawrence Hecker – Archdiocese of New Orleans

| Jun 8, 2020 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Fr. Lawrence Hecker

Archdiocese of New Orleans

Lawrence Hecker Horowitz Law


Ordained: 1958

Removed: 2002

Assignment History

  • St. Frances Cabrini (New Orleans, LA)
  • Christ the King (Terrytown, LA)
  • 1980-1983: Holy Family (Luling, LA)
  • Holy Rosary (New Orleans, LA)
  • Our Lady of Lourdes (New Orleans, LA)
  • St. Anthony (Luling, LA)
  • St. Bernadette (Houma, LA)
  • St. Francis Xavier (Metairie, LA)
  • St. Joseph (Gretna, LA)
  • St. Louise de Marillac (Arabi, LA)
  • St. Mary (New Roads, LA)
  • St. Theresa of Child Jesus (New Orleans, LA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father Lawrence Hecker:

Fr. Lawrence Hecker was ordained a Catholic priest in 1958 and worked in various parishes in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. In 2018, the archdiocese released a list of priests and clergy members who had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a minor at some point during their time with the diocese. Father Lawrence Hecker was included on the list for sexual abuse that was reported in 1996 due to alleged abuse that occurred in the late 1960s and 1970s.

In 1999, Fr. Heckler wrote a letter to the archdiocese admitting that he engaged in sexual acts or harassment with at least seven teens in his care from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s. The letter allegedly also stated that Fr. Heckler helped a man with a mental disability by bringing him food at work that he would fondle. That letter was sent to several top church officials at the time, including now-Archbishop Gregory Aymond. Heckler was sent to treatment at a psychiatric facility. His evaluation stated, “a pedophile who did not understand how his behavior affected others.” He said the facility’s report “explicitly recommended that he not work with children or adults who could be considered vulnerable.”

When Hecker returned from treatment, the Archdiocese of New Orleans reassigned him to a Destrehan church and let him quietly retire three years later, according to a report by the Guardian. Lawrence Hecker was “removed” from active ministry in 2002 and allowed to retire with full health benefits and pension until 2020, when the judge overseeing the archdiocese’s bankruptcy ordered it to stop paying benefits to former employees accused of molesting children.

In 2005, the archdiocese received a letter from a woman whose ex-husband had described being fondled in his sleep as an altar boy on an overnight fishing trip by Hecker decades earlier. Hecker’s response when confronted with that claim was that he “didn’t think masturbation while holding on to someone was a sin”, according to a memorandum that Hughes’s clerical director wrote to the archbishop. The memo also quoted Hecker as saying: “I thought I could beat the system.”

In April of 2019, Lawrence Hecker was accused of sexual misconduct again when a group of boys filed a lawsuit claiming Fr. Hecker had fondled all of them at St. Joseph’s in Gretna in 1968. The lawsuit accused Hecker of lining the boys up shoulder-to-shoulder, ordering them to drop their pants, and showing them “what it was like to get a hernia exam” by groping the children’s genitals.

Law enforcement authorities have never charged Hecker with a crime, even though there were multiple victims of his abuse. New Orleans’s Archdiocese did not publicly acknowledge that Hecker was a predator until 2018, and Hecler was listed on the Baton Rouge Diocese’s list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a minor as of early 2019. Father Hecker worked for both the New Orleans diocese and the Baton Rouge diocese during his career.

Hecker and other clerics who were defrocked as a result of sex abuse allegations also appeared on a list of retired priests for whom the New Orleans Archdiocese was collecting money. The Archdiocese of New Orleans has said removal from ministry, or defrocking, is not a full-fledged exile from the church, and they are legally obligated to pay priests their share of the pension plan if they contributed to it before retiring.

In April of 2020, the Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for bankruptcy protection. As part of its bankruptcy, the Archdiocese of New Orleans will be reviewing and paying claims for anyone sexually abused by diocesan priests and lay employees. This will likely include claims filed on behalf of anyone whose case may be beyond the statute of limitations.

In 2023, a news station in New Orleans was interviewing Lawrence Hecker about a statement he gave to New Orleans church leaders in 1999 when he made the confession. Heckler admitted that the statement he gave years ago was true and that he did sexually abuse several teenagers during his career.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for federal bankruptcy protection in April 2020.  Our lawyers are now offering free legal consultations to discuss your legal options as a survivor of sexual abuse by priests and other employees of the New Orleans Archdiocese. Very strict filing deadlines will soon be set by the Bankruptcy Court. Most victims of abuse will never be able to recover damages if they miss this deadline, so please contact us to discuss your case today. Call us at 888-283-9922 or send an e-mail to [email protected]