Reserve man alleges abuse

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 21, 2002


LAPLACE – The Archdiocese of New Orleans, under the leadership of Archbishop Alfred Hughes, is taking the Catholic sex scandal head-on, with a case-by-case analysis in progress, setting up of a hot line and more apologies and prayers.

In a local case, a Reserve man, Joey Trosclair, 31, alleged he was the victim of sexual abuse by Msgr. John C. Sax, now age 54, and he filed a civil lawsuit against Sax and the archdiocese. The alleged abuse began when Trosclair was an altar boy aged 10 or 11, according to the suit, filed nearly a year ago in New Orleans.

The abuse continued, Trosclair said, for about five years and involved the pair “nearly every weekend” of that extended period.

Sax, now working at a retirement home for priests in Marrero, has since admitted the relationship, according to an archdiocese spokesperson, which began when he was associate pastor at St. Peter Catholic Church in Reserve, and continued when he was pastor.

“It affect every day of my life,” Trosclair said. “I have no self-confidence; I have no self-esteem. I had to become an adult at age 10.”

The relationship began when Sax “always found odd jobs for me to do around the rectory, every weekend,” Trosclair said.

The alleged abuse took place frequently at the St. Peter rectory after the odd jobs kept the youth working late, and Sax would arrange with Trosclair’s mother for the boy to stay overnight. The priest was also a Boy Scout leader, which gave him an excuse to take the youth on overnight camping trips. Trosclair said he could not tell his parents or friends “because I didn’t think anybody would believe me.”

The relationship ended because he put an end to it when he was 15 years old. However, when he was nearly 21 years old, Sax came by Trosclair’s home, picked him up for dinner and a movie, then tried to entice him to an overnight stay at the LaPlace Holiday Inn.

He finally told another priest about the abuse, who helped him get counseling in 2000.

The lawsuit soon followed.

Now a burly truck driver with close-cropped hair, Trosclair endures frequent panic attacks.

He is in his second marriage. His first, which lasted only two years, was conducted by Sax. His wife, Sandra, commented of her husband, “He needed help. You could see it in his eyes.”

Trosclair has undergone archdiocean-funded counseling and “it has helped, but sometimes I leave more upset and angry than before. I’m confused about the whole situation.”

The main reason he is pursing his civil suit, Trosclair continued, is because he went through it himself and “I want no other kid to go through this.”

He last saw Sax in 1998 and had a brief phone call from him in 1999, but has had no contact with him since.

He is represented by attorney Darryl Becnel of Reserve, whose office faces St. Peter Catholic Church.

The national sex scandal involving Catholic priests first hit St. John the Baptist Parish on May 2 when a New Orleans man filed suit against the Archdiocese of New Orleans, claiming a priest molested him 15 years ago at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in LaPlace.

The lawsuit was filed by a man identified only as “R.J.A.” and in it, he claimed a priest, known to him only as “Father Vic,” molested him when he was 11 years old.

The suit details at least one incident “during which Father Vic sexually fondled R.K.A.’s genital area and on at least one occasion.”

Harold Wheelahan III, one of the attorneys involved in the suit for Stephen Rue & Associates, said “Father Vic” is of Philippine descent and may have returned to his homeland, once his visa neared expiration.

The Rev. Robert Vincent, who served St. Joan of Arc from 1985 to 2001, confirmed the only priest he ever knew as “Father Vic” there around that time was a Filipino “supply priest” filling in for vacation, who returned to the Philippines when his visa was up.

The Rev. William Maestri, speaking for the Archdiocese, said Hughes will establish a hotline for complaints of sexual abuse by priests, deacons, lay ministers and anyone of authority at any church in the archdiocese.

The phone line will be ready in the first week of June and will be operated Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and manned by professional counselors in that field.

In addition, a letter will be read in all churches of the archdiocese, reporting on Hughes’ findings. Finally, he will declare a week of prayer, May 26-June 2, which will cumulate in a 3 p.m. Mass on June 2 at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, to be attended by all priests, deacons and lay ministers.

At a meeting of all priests in the Archdiocese held Thursday afternoon at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Maestri reported back to waiting media that 10 cases are “considered credible” among complaints received.

Of those 10, one is now in a monastery, three are inactive, four are retired and two are active priests, both now on administrative leave. Neither were identified, though one is presumably Msgr. Sax.

“When Hughes came in January, he was determined this archdiocese would be one where children are safe,” Maestri said. “The priestly or religious life is not a haven for those who molest children. We have to always be cautious. We just can’t take those chances.”

Maestri said priests are overwhelmed with sadness for those exposed as child molesters. Joey Trosclair, though, is in no mood for forgiveness.

“He knows what he did,” Trosclair said. “I dislike the man immensely.”