Ex-Louisiana priest sentenced to 25 years after pleading guilty to drug and molestation of men he met in New Orleans


A former Louisiana Catholic priest has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty drugging and molested 17 men he met in New Orleans’ French Quarter, according to prosecutors.

Stephen Sauer, 61, admitted to targeting men who appeared to be “intoxicated, lost or in need of assistance,” according to a news release from Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office. He then offered to help the men, but drugged them and drove the unconscious victims to his home in Metairie, about 7 miles west of the district, prosecutors said.

Sauer pleaded guilty to 13 counts of sexual assault, nine counts of third-degree rape, 17 counts of video voyeurism, as well as 16 counts of felony drug possession, court records show. On Friday, District Judge Shayna Beevers Morvant sentenced Sauer to a total of 25 years in prison and ordered him to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, the district attorney’s office said.

Many of the victims were visiting New Orleans from out of state and were “separated from friends or simply lost” when approached by Sauer, according to the news release. Sauer took photos of his victims’ ID cards, which allowed detectives to identify some of the victims, the news release said.

In some cases, Sauer laced narcotics into the victims’ drinks while they were at a bar or used a drip to drug them with “sleep-inducing substances” after they had already passed out, such as zolpidem, according to the news release .

Sauer then drove the victims to his home, where he used a smartphone to photograph and record the unconscious men, prosecutors said. He molested some of the men and pleasured himself before driving his victims back to their hotels or other locations the next morning, according to the statement.

An investigation led by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office found that Sauer shared or exchanged the images with others online or via email, prosecutors said. The investigation was launched in June 2021 after Sauer sent a computer hard drive to a repair company in New York, where a data recovery technician found hundreds of images and notified law enforcement, the statement said.

According to the release, detectives believe more than 50 of Sauer’s victims remain unidentified because the killings took place over a two-year period from 2019 to 2021.

CNN has reached out to Sauer’s attorney, Mike Ciaccio, for comment.

“We in the province have learned through media reports that Mr. Sauer has pleaded guilty to charges involving adult males. We encourage anyone who was injured to notify law enforcement,” Therese Fink Meyerhoff of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province told CNN, while confirming that Sauer was a priest.

The prosecutor’s office said Sauer’s previous occupation as a Catholic priest was not relevant to the case itself.

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