Priest Accused of Pedophilia

United Press International
January 2, 1986

A lawyer who filed a lawsuit accusing an embattled Roman Catholic priest of molesting two sisters more than 30 years ago said Thursday he is trying the case for the sake of all molested children.

The suit was filed in Lafayette Parish against the Rev. John Anthony Engbers, 63, the Diocese of Lafayette and the Diocese of Lake Charles, said Abbeville attorney Anthony J. Fontana.

The suit, filed Monday, seeks $10 million in damages for Brenda Andrepont Gossett and Judy Andrepont Triche, who allege they were molested by Engbers when they were 3 and 7 years old and living in Lake Charles.

Engbers, who resigned and returned to his native Holland last July, was also accused of pedophilia in another case. A $50 million suit filed in November claimed Engbers molested five sisters, whose maiden name was Butaud, as early as 1957.

The church has attempted to keep that case from going to trial because of a law that says lawsuits should be filed within one year of the alleged violations, Fontana said.

"I anticipate the church will take a similar course of action with the Andrepont sisters' (case)," he says, adding that he is seeking an exception to the one-year rule.

"The church's position is that you have a year to file a lawsuit or your cause of action is prescribed," he said. "They're saying these acts occurred back in the 1950s. They say they feel it is too late to bring a cause of action."

Fontana, however, said his clients should receive an exception to the one-year rule because they were just children when the alleged molestations occurred and were too ashamed to admit the acts to anyone.

"I believe this case has national significance," the attorney said. "I believe that the time has come for us to make a shot for all the children who have been molested.

"If you get away with it for a year, you're free. Louisiana would be a haven for it (child molestation.)"

The suit filed Monday claims Engbers became friends with the Andrepont family in the 1950s when he was assigned to a Lake Charles church. When the girls were 3 and 7 years old, the suit says, Engbers took them out in the country and molested them.

Another priest of the Lafayette Diocese, the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, was charged with molesting as many as 37 young boys during a 10-year period. He pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole.

The church has already paid nearly $5 million to the boys' parents to settle civil suits, and lawsuits asking another $14 million are pending.


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