At the New Orleans City Council meeting with a focus on short term rentals, a surprising moment occurred when former congressional candidate Belden Batiste spoke before the council.
“I’m here, and I’m Belden Batiste, and what I want to tell you all council members, even you, Jay (councilmember Jay Banks) is step up to the plate. Children have been molested at NORD (New Orleans Recreational Development Commission)…” He continued, “And all you council members know about it.”
After indicting the city council, NORD, and Mayor Cantrell, things eventually devolved into a shouting match with Belden speaking to council Councilman Jay Banks while gesturing for the council members to respond with a beckoning motion, “Come on Jay (Banks), you always got answers. Let me hear ‘em.”
Councilmember Banks Responded with, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Batiste cut him off with, “All you all know about it. It’s because it’s black children!”
Eventually, Councilmember Banks responded, “And I’m going to say it again, give me the information and I will view it.”
Batiste appeared to be referencing an October incident involving NORD. In response, Banks informed that room that the NOPD had investigated the allegations and found no evidence that a molestation had occurred.
However, in spite of the insistence that no molestation occurred, the interim CEO Maya Wyche of NORD was fired. The accusation was that she did nothing to stop a coach from molesting children. After her firing, Mayor Cantrell’s office delivered a statement to local news station WDSU saying:
“Immediately upon stepping in as Acting CEO of NORD, Liana Elliott spoke to the NOPD regarding these serious allegations. The NOPD confirmed that the original allegation had been dismissed and that the department had no record of new allegations.”
To Big Easy Magazine’s knowledge, the coach in question is still in place at NORD.
Later in the meeting, Councilman Banks explained “…I’ve been on the phone since Belden’s comments, and I’ve been on the phone with the director of NORD, who tells me that an anonymous allegation was made, that the police investigated, and that there was no substance to the allegation of a child being molested. Now, this is nothing new. This happened several months ago. But there was nothing to it, according to the New Orleans Police Department. So I want to go on the record and say if anyone has any knowledge of a child being abused or mistreated, please let me know…But at the end of the day, there will never be a child being abused that I’m aware of and that will not go unpunished.”