Dutel: Sex abuse allegations are false

By Katie De La Rosa
August 4, 2014

The Rev. Gil Dutel

The St. Edmond's Catholic Church priest accused of sex crimes in the 1970s told parishioners Sunday that the allegations that he sexually abused a young boy and coerced young men into having sex with him are false.

"I maintained my innocence then, and I maintain my innocence now," said the Rev. Gilbert Dutel to a packed sanctuary at the 11 a.m. Mass. The congregation gave him a standing ovation at the end of his five-minute address.

Dutel apologized to his church for having to "forfeit the time" to acknowledge this issue, which was raised last week by an extensive Minnesota Public Radio report that re-explored the widespread sexual abuse within the church in South Louisiana beginning in the 1970s. Similar crimes are alleged to have appeared in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Then-Diosese of Lafayette Bishop Harry Flynn "concluded the accusations weren't credible," Dutel said.

Flynn, however, along with predecessor Gerard Frey, has been accused of covering up allegations of priest pedophilia and sex abuse, including transferring accused priests, including the defrocked Gilbert Gauthe, from one church parish to another, The Daily Advertiser reported earlier this week.

The allegations, detailed in a 1992 legal document that were quietly unsealed years later, were never investigated by the police.

On Sunday, Dutel assured the church that he is "not a threat to young children."

"I deeply regret the embarrassment and the heartache this man caused," Dutel said, referring to the victim who accused him and whose name is readacted in the legal documents.

The priest said he is most concerned what this incident has caused to the people of his church, to whom he expressed his "sincerest gratitude" for their support.

"Thank you for all the phone calls, text messages and emails you have sent me," Dutel said. "I am humbled by the kind remarks. I ask for your continued support, and I love you."

He added that he is thankful for Bishop Michael Jarrell, whose "willingness to stand" by Dutel "hasn't been easy."

"You have the wellness of the entire church of Lafayette on your shoulders, Bishop," he said to Jarrell, who was not in attendance.

In the legal statement that alleges Dutel's sexual misconduct with a juvenile, the victim named two other priests, Ronald Lane "Jean Paul" Fontenot and David Primeaux.

Fontenot was convicted of statutory rape in 1986 in Spokane, Wash., where he was transferred for counseling after he was placed on leave in Lafayette in 1983 when a civil lawsuit was filed, The Daily Advertiser reported earlier this week.

Primeaux admitted in a 1984 psychological evaluation that he started abusing children in 1980 at St. Benedict in Covington, and the diocese settled a lawsuit in 2000 in which Primeaux allegedly admitted molesting a boy while serving at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Milton in the early 1980s.

Primeaux left the priesthood in 1985 and later got married. When some of his victims confronted his wife in Virginia in December 2012, he committed suicide.


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