Advertiser Misquotes Accused Priest, Issues Correction
August 5, 2014
A correction was issued Tuesday by The Daily Advertiser saying its reporter misquoted the Rev. Gilbert Dutel during a weekend homily in which he addresses resurrected allegations that he molested a young altar boy in the mid- to late-1970s.
The correction reads:
In an earlier version of this story published Monday about the Rev. Gilbert Dutel’s church homily at St. Edmond Roman Catholic Church, The Daily Advertiser misquoted Dutel and incorrectly stated that he was referring to an alleged victim of sexual abuse. A review of the text of Dutel’s homily showed he said, ‘I regret deeply the embarrassment and heart-ache that all this may have caused.’
The original quote printed in Monday’s paper, incorrectly had Dutel saying he “deeply” regretted the “embarrassment and the heart-ache this man has caused,” making it seem as if the priest was blaming the victim for the negative energy caused by the return of old allegations, the result of unsealed court records and a recent investigative series by Minnesota Public Radio.
St. Edmond’s responded to Monday’s misquote with a link on its web site to the exact statement read by Dutel during his weekend homily.
In addition to Tuesday’s correction, the local paper followed up with a story looking at Bishop Michael Jarrell’s appearance over the weekend at St. Edmond’s, where he joined his troubled priest in addressing the renewed controversy that erupted last week.
Aside from issuing a prepared statement to the press last week, Jarrell has declined multiple interview offers, as well as requests for the names of 15 priests cited by the bishop in a 2004 address as the number of priests whose victims had received a settlement payout from the diocese and its insurers.
“I believe that six are now deceased, one is no longer a priest and none of the 15 is serving in ministry,” Jarrell writes in a response emailed Monday to the Advertiser. “They do not have an assignment and they do not celebrate Mass or perform any ministry in churches in this Diocese or elsewhere.”
In defending Dutel, the bishop argues that although the accussations were only made public recently thanks to the series by MPR, the issue, as far as the diocese is concerned, is old news. Jarrell has repeatedly pointed to an investigation handled in 1992 by former Bishop Harry Flynn.
Jarrell concedes that the investigative file left by Flynn contains little information on Dutel’s case. Flynn’s investigative file included no report, and all the church really knows, according to Jarrell, is that police weren’t involved and the former bishop’s findings prompted no action against Dutel.
“There is not much information in the files, but apparently Bishop Flynn looked into it at that time and saw no reason to take action against Dutel,” Jarrell tells the Advertiser.
During his address over the weekend, Jarrell repeatedly emphasized to parishioners that the allegations against Dutel dealt with events from the 1980s, and that the diocese has maintained a clean record over the last two decades.
What Jarrell seems to be missing by discrediting the claims against Dutel, is that he’s based his position on an investigation by a former bishop with a reputation for sweeping sexual abuse under the rug, as spelled out in MPR’s investigative series.
And perhaps Dutel is innocent, but considering that the other two priests named by his alleged victim turned out to be sexual predators — with one being convicted and the other leaving the priesthood and committing suicide after a confrontation between his wife and a former victim — it would seem that at the very least an investigation would be warranted.