A Roman Catholic deacon from Metairie was arrested Monday on accusations that he sexually molested a pre-teen boy 20 years ago, before he was ordained as a member of the clergy, our media partners at The Advocate/Times Picayune report.
Virgil Maxey “V.M.” Wheeler III, 62, faces one count of sexual battery and two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, said Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Jason Rivarde. Wheeler is suspected of taking a shower with the boy and performing oral sex on him, Rivarde told the newspapers.
The arrest comes seven months after the allegations at the center of the case prompted New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond to suspend Wheeler from his role as a deacon at St. Francis Xavier Church in Old Metairie, the newspapers report. To read the Picayune story on that, click here.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued a statement.
"We applaud the investigators for believing the victim and filing these charges and we hope that this news will encourage others who were hurt in New Orleans to come forward, find help, and start healing," the statement reads.
"We hope that Catholic officials in New Orleans will take steps to add Deacon Wheeler to their list immediately and also to inform parishioners at every parish where he worked or volunteered about these charges. Finally, we encourage anyone who may have been hurt by the Deacon or any other Church staffer to find the strength to come forward and make a report to local police."