Former Priest Pleads Guilty to Molestation

By Richard Burgess
The Advertiser [Lafayette LA]
May 3, 2003

LAFAYETTE - A former Catholic priest pleaded guilty Friday to charges that he molested a 16-year-old boy while spending the night at the family's home in Abbeville.

John Wesley Andries, 48, faces from one to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of molestation of a juvenile.

Sentencing is set for May 19.

Andries was the pastor of St. Margaret Catholic Church in Boyce when the allegations surfaced. It was the second sexual misconduct allegation against the former priest.

The Diocese of Alexandria has acknowledged that he was suspended from the priesthood after a previous allegation but allowed to return after psychological testing and counseling, according to published reports.

In the recent case, he was accused of molesting a boy in June 2001 while sleeping in an extra bed in the boy's room. The boy's family invited the priest to spend the night at their home.

The boy and his family agreed to the plea, according to court records.

Anthony Fontana, who represents the victim's family in a lawsuit filed against Andries and the Diocese of Alexandria, said the plea deal requires at least some jail time, psychological counseling and registration as a sex offender.

The plea came during a hearing that included the issue of whether Andries' trial, scheduled for this month, should be moved from Vermilion Parish because of pre-trial publicity.

"It was a complete surprise," Fontana said of the guilty plea. He said Andries had previously rejected all plea offers.


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