METAIRIE, La. – A former Roman Catholic priest in Louisiana was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to drugging and molesting 17 men he met in New Orleans’ French Quarter over a two-year span.
According to the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office, Stephen Sauer, 61, of Metairie, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of sexual battery, nine counts of third-degree rape, 17 counts of video voyeurism and 16 misdemeanor drug charges, the Times-Picayune reported.
Sauer was also ordered to register as a sex offender and is banned from contacting 12 of his victims for the rest of his life, WWL-TV reported.
Sauer had been chief of Arc of Greater New Orleans, a nonprofit that provides services to mentally disabled people in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes, according to the Times-Picayune. He was fired from the agency after he was arrested in 2021, the newspaper reported.
Before that Sauer had been a Jesuit priest who served as pastor of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans from 2008 to 2012, the Times-Picayune reported.
An investigation began in June 2021, when Sauer sent a computer hard drive to an electronics repair company in New York, according to WGNO-TV.
A data recovery technician found hundreds of images suggesting sexual assault and New York law enforcement officials determined the images were taken in Metairie, the television station reported. Authorities notified the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
According to prosecutors, Sauer admitted to targeting individuals who appeared to be intoxicated or needed help, WVUE-TV reported. He allegedly drugged the victims by administering sleep-inducing substances into their drinks, according to the television station.
Prosecutors alleged that Sauer drove the unconscious victims to his Metairie residence, where he took photos of them and engaged in sexual acts, WWL reported. He would drive his victims to their homes or hotels the next day, according to the television station.
Detectives were able to identify many of the victims because Sauer took photographs of their driver’s licenses or other forms of identification, the Times-Picayune reported. Investigators said the found prescription pill bottles in the name of a convicted sex offender in Missouri, according to the newspaper.
The drugs included zolpidem, a common date rape drug, the Times-Picayune reported.
Investigators believe that as many as 50 victims remain unidentified, according to WVUE.
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