Former Catholic priest Patrick Wattigny, awaiting trial on child molestation charges, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in St. Tammany Parish to another molestation charge involving a second accuser.
Wattigny was arrested in 2020 and charged with molesting a 15-year-old in 2013, while the boy attended the high school where Wattigny was serving as chaplain.
Wattigny was awaiting trial in that case when he was charged with another count of molestation against another victim in St. Tammany Parish this past October. On Wednesday, that second charge was consolidated with the first in a new charging document, and Wattigny pleaded not guilty.
The combined cases are being heard by state Judge John Keller of the 22nd Judicial District on the north shore. A trial date was set for June 12.
WWL-TV and The Times-Picayune broke the story of allegations against Wattigny in October 2020, shortly after Wattigny allegedly admitted the abuse to the New Orleans Archdiocese. He was chaplain at Pope John Paul II High School in Slidell until the summer of 2020, when allegations of inappropriate texts with a student forced him to resign.
Shawn Smith, a spokesperson for the 22nd Judicial District Attorney's Office, confirmed that Keller had offered Wattigny a specific sentence if he would plead guilty to the first charge, before it became part of a new, two-count charge filed Wednesday by the DA's Office.
"Today, we met with the judge to discuss both counts and what his sentence would be," Smith said. "He is thinking about it and is supposed to let us know by Friday."
Wattigny's attorney, Bob Stern, declined comment.
Ordained in 1994, Wattigny spent the first six years of his career working at St. Peter Catholic Church in Covington; Visitation of Our Lady in Marrero; and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Kenner.
He became the pastor at St. Benilde Parish as well as the chaplain at Archbishop Rummel High School, both in Metairie, in 2000 and remained there until June 2013.
That's when Wattigny became the pastor at St. Luke the Evangelist in Slidell, a post he held until his removal from ministry.
While pastor at St. Luke, Wattigny also served as chaplain of Pope John Paul II High School and was its president for the 2017-18 academic year.