St. Tammany Parish District Attorney formally charges two priests in separate cases

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ST. TAMMANY PARISH– It was a case that shocked the catholic community in Louisiana. Fr. Travis Clark was caught having sex with two women on the altar of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Pearl River in late September 2020.

“The devil got the best of him in a moment of weakness,” a Parishoner said.

Now St. Tammany District Attorney Warren Montgomery has filed criminal charges against 37-year old Clark and the two women 41-year old Mindy Dixon and 28-year old Melissa Cheng. The three are accused of “knowingly vandalizing, defacing, and damaging property” valued between $500 and $50,000 at the church.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond with the Archdiocese of New Orleans helped with the healing by sprinkling holy water and blessing the church and its new altar quickly after it happened.

“We must drive away the evil spirit,” Archbishop Aymond said last Fall.

In another controversial case involving a catholic priest in St. Tammany Parish. The District Attorney charged 63-year old Patrick Wattingny. He’s a former priest at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church and a chaplain at Pope John Paul II High School both in Slidell. Wattingny is accused of molesting a 15-year old teenager between June of 2013 and August of 2014.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans released a statement today about both priests saying.

“We have and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement. We are proceeding to the Vatican to petition for their laicization presenting information from both criminal and canonical investigations. Our prayers remain with all those who were hurt by the actions of these two men.”

At St. Peter and Paul Church today, parishoners say they’ve moved on and they are focusing on all the good that their church is doing in the community like their food pantry program.

The lawyer for the two women involved in the sex priest case said in a statement that “this is just a thinly veiled attempt to regulate the morality of private individuals.”

The St. Tammany District Attorney’s Office says the two priests and the two women will all have their hearings where they can plead guilty or not-guilty.

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