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Report: Man speaks out about alleged sex abuse at Jesuit High in 1970s

According to the New Orleans Advocate, Ricky Windmann said Peter Modica forcibly performed oral sex on him at the campus and claims that priests at the school knew about the abuse that happened for years.

It was the 1970s when a young Richard Windmann was playing basketball behind Jesuit High School and befriended a janitor named Peter Modica.

And it was on the grounds of the elite Mid-City school where for years, he said, he became the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Modica and priests. Records show he wasn't alone.

"What you set-up as far as the background of the matter, I would describe as clearly confirmed," the Rev. Raymond Fitzgerald, Jesuit’s former president, is heard saying in a tape of a 2012 among him, Windmann and a psychologist the Jesuits hired.

Fitzgerald died in 2016 from ALS

That meeting resulted in Jesuit paying Windmann a $450,000 settlement after he brought his story to the school’s leadership.

Windmann on Thursday declined an interview with WWL-TV. He told The New Orleans Advocate, however, that the abuse happened everywhere from the school’s chapel to a maintenance office.

One particularly disturbing allegation is that a Jesuit priest, the late Rev. Cornelius Carr, didn't stop Modica from raping Windmann when Carr entered the room.

Instead, Windmann told The Advocate, Carr told the boy to relax and began to masturebate as the rape continued.

Windmann didn't attend Jesuit but grew up nearby in the 4200 block of D'Hemecourt Street. In the recording, Fitzgerald acknowledged Modica regularly lured boys from the neighborhood to the school.

"The fact that Modica would bring neighborhood children onto campus is confirmed," Fitzgerald said. "By and large, Modica's hours of employment tended to be after school, when the building would not have been heavily occupied."

The first time the settlement came to light was when The Advocate reported it Wednesday night.

While Jesuit High School is a part of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, it is run separately by the Jesuit order. The Archdiocese on Thursday said any reports of abuse and settlements must be handled by the order.

Jesuit on Thursday evening issued a statement to parents and alumni that sought to reassure them after the story broke.

The statement said that every employee goes through several background check and regular training meant to stop sexual abuse.

“I assure you, we are all committed to the safety of everyone on campus,” the Rev. Christopher Fronk, Jesuit’s president, wrote. “Any credible allegation of sexual abuse against someone who is a minor will be immediately reported to law enforcement.”

Author Jason Berry, a Jesuit graduate who has spent years reporting on sex abuse in the church, said it's better for everyone when these situations are not hidden away.

"We need light. The more you keep these cases covered up, the more people are in ignorance. And although it's painful for it to come out, we need the catharsis; we need the light so that we can understand how to follow a better path.”

When Windmann approached the school in 2012, he told Fitzgerald he wanted to move on from a dark chapter in his past.

“All my life … do you recognize it's been kind of hard on me?" he asked Fitzgerald.

"Oh, yes," Fitzgerald responded

"And my family? And, uh -- and i don't know what else to say in that regard,” Windmann said.

Danny Monteverde can be reached at danny@wwltv.com.