Ronald Lane Fontenot Will Spend a Year in the Spokane County Jail

United Press International
July 18, 1986

SPOKANE, Wash. — Ronald Lane Fontenot, a suspended Catholic priest, will spend a year in the Spokane County Jail for molesting several boys while they were being treated for alcohol and drug addiction.

Fontenot, 40, took advantage of a position of trust established with his victims through his role as drug treatment counselor and priest, said Superior Court Judge Thomas E. Merryman, who imposed the sentence Thursday.

"All of the factors (involved in the case) provide too pursuasive an argument to make a minimum sentence acceptable," Merryman said.

The judge also sentenced Fontenot to undergo two years of in-patient treatment at a facility run by a Catholic order called The Servants of the Paracletes in Jemez Springs, N.M., following the jail term.

After that, Fontenot will be on probation for three years and must continue any treatment the court deems necessary.

Fontenot pleaded guilty in June to one count of third-degree statutory rape — a felony involving a 15-year-old boy — and four misdemeanor counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

Fontenot's legal problems in Spokane have attracted nationwide attention because of his previous connection with the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, La., which has been shaken by sexual scandals in recent years.

Fontenot never was charged with any crime in Louisiana, but the diocese suspended him from his priestly duties following a 1983 accusation that he molested a boy.

A cheerful Fontenot told the court Thursday that the therapy he has received in the months since his arrest have helped him begin to "understand the nature of my behavior."

"I am resolved that this is not going to happen again," Fontenot said.

"For this reason, I want to say that I'm sorry because I never intended to hurt my church or the young people involved or my family and because of that I ask for a greater form of justice, which is mercy."


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