Louisiana ex-priest accused of molestation jailed in Georgia

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COVINGTON, La. — A former priest from a New Orleans suburb faces charges of molesting a juvenile and has been arrested as a fugitive in west-central Georgia, authorities in Louisiana said Friday.

Patrick Wattigny was arrested Thursday night at a home in Troup County, Georgia, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. The county’s online jail roster showed that he was arrested by police in West Point and was being held without bond.

It was not immediately clear whether he has an attorney who could speak for him.

St. Tammany Parish deputies obtained a warrant Thursday accusing Wattigny, now 53, of sexually abusing a minor four times in 2013 while serving as pastor of “St. Luke’s” in Slidell, the Louisiana sheriff’s office said.

“Wattigny started grooming the victim, who was 15 at the time, through general conversation, which led to telephone and text message conversations and eventually in-person visits,” the statement said. It said some of the alleged molestation was in the church rectory.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond removed Wattigny, then a priest at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church, from the ministry on Oct. 1 after he confessed to abusing a minor in 2013, news outlets reported.

Slidell is a city of 27,600. West Point is a city of about 3,700, located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) south-southwest of Atlanta and 320 miles (515 kilometers) northeast of Slidell.