Bishop: No new accusations of priest abuse since 1984
By Katie De La Rosa
August 04, 2014
|Bishop Michael Jarrell, Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana. |
No new allegations of sex crimes involving children by Diocese of Lafayette clergy have been made since 1984, Bishop Michael Jarrell told parishioners of St. Edmond Catholic Church in Lafayette on Saturday.
Jarrell addressed parishioners following a week of news reports that St. Edmond Pastor Gil Dutel was accused in legal documents from the 1990s of sexually abusing a boy in the 1970s and making sexual advances to an adult male. The documents only recently were made public in a Minnesota Public Broadcasting investigation of priest sex abuse and cover-ups.
"No additional priests have been accused in recent decades," Jarrell said in an email response Monday to questions posed Sunday by The Daily Advertiser. "I stand by my 2004 statement: The Diocese knows of no act of abuse by a cleric that may have occurred since 1984."
Jarrell declined The Daily Advertiser's request for an interview and did not respond to the newspaper's second request for the names of 15 priests. Jarrell acknowledged in 2004 that the diocese and its insurers has paid settlements to the sexual abuse victims of those priests.
Last week, Jarrell said he "sees no purpose in such action."
In his response Monday about the 15 priests, Jarrell wrote, "I believe that six are now deceased, one is no longer a priest and none of the 15 is serving in ministry. They do not have an assignment and they do not celebrate Mass or perform any ministry in churches in this Diocese or elsewhere."
Ray Mouton defended former Diocese of Lafayette priest Gilbert Gauthe in the first priest sex abuse case that made national headlines in the 1980s and now advocates for sexual abuse victims. On Monday, after being contacted by email, Mouton again took aim at Jarrell for his "persistence in refusing to release the names of 15 child sex abusers whose identity is known to him, men whom the bishop admits have had 'credible complaints' made against them, men who may still be serving as priests or working as lay persons with or near children in South Louisiana today, a clear act of child endangerment."
While the accusations against Dutel from the 1990s may be new to most, the allegations are "old stuff" that have "been addressed by the bishops over the years," Jarrell told the St. Edmond Church congregation Saturday as he expressed his confidence and support of Dutel.
"There is not much information in the files, but apparently Bishop (Harry) Flynn looked into it at that time and saw no reason to take action against Dutel," Jarrell said.
Last week, in a written statement to The Daily Advertiser, Jarrell said Flynn investigated the Dutel allegations in 1992. The police were not involved and there is no report on the investigation, he said.
Diocesan spokesman Monsignor Richard Greene said last week that medical information about personnel is confidential. But he said Dutel "has never been sent by the Diocese for treatment for pedophilia." Dutel has denied the claims.
Jarrell's online biography states that when he was a priest, he was assigned as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Ville Platte from 1984 to 1993. Dutel served at the church from 1977 until 1986.
The young man in the 1992 statement claimed he was sexually abused by three priests, the first of them being Dutel. Of the others, Lane Fontenot was convicted and imprisoned in 1986 in Washington, where he had been relocated from Lafayette for counseling.
The other, David Primeaux, admitted in a 1986 psychological evaluation that he started to abuse children in 1980. Primeaux committed suicide in Virginia in 2012 after relatives of one of his victims told the priest-turned-professor's wife about his alleged crimes.
Jarrell reportedly also was assigned for about six months to the same church parish as Primeaux in 1982.
Mouton, who in 1985 co-authored with two priests a report on clergy sex abuse distributed to the U.S. bishops, also criticized Jarrell's handling of the Dutel accusations, saying the bishop is violating the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted in 2011 by the U.S. Conference of Bishops.
"Never anywhere in the world has a case of alleged clergy sexual abuse been handled worse or in a more high-handed disregard for the Charter that binds Bishop Jarrell," he said.
The charter states, "Diocese/eparchies are to report an allegation of sexual abuse of a person who is a minor to the public authorities." The charter continues, "Dioceses/eparchies are to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved."
Jarrell, in his response to The Daily Advertiser said, "I have been making an attempt to be appropriately transparent in the current situation."