Former Louisiana Priest Sentenced To 25 Years After Pleading Guilty

A Louisiana ex-Catholic clergyman who targeted 17 intoxicated or vulnerable men, using drugs to incapacitate them, taking photos, and engaging in sexual assault with at least twelve of them, received a 25-year prison sentence on Friday. Judge Shayna Beevers Morvant of the 24th Judicial District Court imposed this sentence on Stephen Sauer, a former priest aged 61, subsequent to his guilty plea on Friday. The charges against Sauer included 13 counts of sexual battery, nine counts of third-degree rape, 17 counts of video voyeurism, and 16 misdemeanor drug possession charges. 

The district attorney for Jefferson Parish, which encompasses the greater New Orleans region, released a statement confirming the verdict. In addition to the prison term, the judge mandated that Sauer register as a sex offender and permanently prohibited him from contacting twelve of the victims.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Sauer targeted numerous men over a span of two years, starting in the autumn of 2019, in the French Quarter of New Orleans. This particular neighborhood is popular among tourists and renowned for its vibrant nightlife. Exploiting their distress or vulnerability, he would sometimes drug their beverages or administer substances that induced sleep, as per the prosecution’s statements.

Under the guise of offering assistance, he would then bring them to his residence in Metairie, Louisiana, which is the largest city in Jefferson Parish. Prosecutors assert that at his home, Mr. Sauer would photograph or videotape the victims and sexually assault some of them. Additionally, the district attorney’s office stated that he frequently shared photos of the victims through online platforms and email exchanges with others.

A considerable number of the victims were individuals who were visiting from other states and were either lost or had become separated from their friends.

According to prosecutors, one of the drugs Mr. Sauer employed to incapacitate his victims was Zolpidem, a sedative-hypnotic medication commonly prescribed for insomnia treatment but also misused as a date rape drug. Investigators were able to identify some of the victims by discovering their driver’s licenses and other forms of identification among the photographs taken by Mr. Sauer.

Detectives approximated that there might be over 50 additional victims who have not yet been identified.

As of Monday, no response had been received from Mr. Sauer’s attorney regarding a request for comment.

The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s office chose not to provide any comments regarding the case.

Prior to his arrest in 2021, Mr. Sauer’s LinkedIn profile indicated that he held the position of executive director at Arc of Greater New Orleans, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities. Prior to that role, he served as a faculty member at the University of San Francisco, a private Jesuit university. Additionally, he spent four years as a pastor at a Roman Catholic church in New Orleans.

As of Monday, there was no immediate response from the Arc of Greater New Orleans regarding a request for comment. The church where Mr. Sauer had served as a pastor declined to provide any comments.

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