New Orleans’ Archdiocese Abuse
NEW ORLEANS — When the Archdiocese of New Orleans issued a list two years ago that included dozens of clergymen credibly accused of sexual abuse, Mike Brandner Sr.’s heart sank.
Brandner’s late brother, Scot, had a trove of love letters sent to him by a former New Orleans priest, Brian Highfill, in his desk drawer when he died. The letters started arriving in the early 1980s, when Scot was 17 and in high school, and because Scot had known Highfill since he was 10, Mike Brandner feared for what could have happened when Scot was a minor. Months before the list came out, Brandner had started pushing Archbishop Gregory Aymond to put Highfill on it.
But Highfill wasn’t included.
Though Aymond had indefinitely suspended Highfill from public ministry in late November of 2018, after Brandner contacted him, the archbishop said advisers had determined the letters weren’t “explicit enough” to establish sexual abuse.
But now that’s changed. After another accuser with detailed claims came forward, an archdiocesan board that reviews clergy abuse complaints recommended Tuesday that Aymond should add Highfill to the roster of priests and deacons suspected of molestation or other inappropriate conduct. Aymond accepted the recommendation, putting Highfill on a list alongside 63 other clergymen.