COVINGTON, La. (AP) - A former priest and two women accused of having sex on a church altar have been charged with institutional vandalism, a Louisiana prosecutor said Friday. And a second former priest was charged separately with felony molestation of a juvenile, District Attorney Warren Montgomery said.
Travis Jhon Clark, 37; Mindy Lynn Dixon, 41, of Kent, Washington; and Melissa Kamon Cheng, 28, of Alpharetta, Georgia; were charged Thursday in one bill of information and Patrick Brian Wattigny in another, Montgomery said.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond said on Oct. 1 that Wattigny had on that day disclosed sexual abuse of a minor in 2013, and that both he and Clark had been removed from the ministry.
Wattigny was pastor of St. Luke Catholic Church in Slidell in October. He left a church and a Catholic school in Metairie in 2013, but the archdiocese told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate in October that it was unaware of any alleged abuse at the time.
Clark was pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in Pearl River when he was arrested on an obscenity charge. In a video statement Oct. 9, Aymond said: “His obscene behavior was deplorable. His desecration of the altar in the church was demonic.”
He also said the altar had been burned. A new altar was consecrated Oct. 10, news agencies reported.
Clark, Cheng and Dixon are accused of “knowingly vandalizing, defacing, or otherwise damaging property and causing damage valued at over $500 and under $50,000” at the church on or between Sept. 29 and Sept. 30, Montgomery said.
District attorney’s spokeswoman Lisa Page said she did not know whether they had attorneys who could speak for them.
The maximum sentence would be a $1,000 fine and two years in prison at hard labor.
Molesting a juvenile aged 13 through 16 carries a minimum prison term of five years. The maximum would be 20 years and a $10,000 fine. It was also not known if Wattigny had an attorney who could comment.
Both Pearl River and Slidell are north of New Orleans in St. Tammany Parish.
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