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  Priest Removed from Eunice Post; Pope Summons Cardinals to Talk about Scandal

By John Sullivan
Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, LA)
April 16, 2002

LAFAYETTE — A Roman Catholic priest in Eunice has been removed from his position after allegations of sexual misconduct that occurred in the early 1960s in Kentucky while serving as a member of the Benedictine order before he became a priest.

Bishop Edward O'Donnell said Monday that he removed the Rev. Joseph Alexander from his position as pastor of St. Anthony Church. Alexander, a native of Lafayette, was also removed from his position as chancellor of St. Edmond Catholic School in Eunice.

The bishop's announcement came on the same day Pope John Paul II issued a call for all American cardinals to report to Rome regarding a series of sex scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.

Alexander has been placed on administrative leave, O'Donnell said. He added that the Rev. Ted Broussard will continue to serve as associate pastor and that Monsignor Robert Romero, Vicar for the Northern Region, will serve as administrator of the parish until a new pastor is appointed.

In a press release dated Monday, O'Donnell said the action, was "necessitated by an accusation of sexual impropriety with a minor which occurred in the early 1960s while Father Alexander was a Benedictine brother of St. Maur's Prio in Uniontown, Ky., in the Diocese of Owensboro, Ky.

"Father Alexander has acknowledged his involvement in the behavior of which he is accused," the bishop said. "The person making the accusation has contacted the Diocese of Owensboro and our diocese."

Bishop John McRaith, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Owensboro, said Monday that the victim contacted his office first. McRaith did not identify the victim by name or age, nor did he say under what circumstances the victim and Alexander met.

"The alleged victim contacted us and we, in turn, put him in touch with the Diocese of Lafayette," McRaith said. McRaith added that Alexander was not a member of the Diocese of Owensboro at the time of the alleged incident, explaining that Alexander was a member of the Benedictine order and that the incident occurred in a seminary.

O'Donnell said Alexander has been a member of the Diocese of Lafayette since 1984 after he transferred here from Kentucky.

McRaith said that his office had not received any allegations regarding Alexander other than this one. His transfer was described as normal.

The Diocese of Lafayette was rocked by the sex scandal involving the former Rev. Gilbert Gauthe in the 1970s and 1980s. Gauthe, a Vermilion Parish priest, pleaded guilty in 1985 to 33 counts, including aggravated crimes against nature, committing sexually immoral acts with minors and pornography involving minors. A count of aggravated rape was dismissed. As part of a plea agreement, Gauthe was released in 1995.

"The person who raises this accusation has no connection with the Diocese of Lafayette," O'Donnell said. "None of the incidents brought up occurred anywhere in the state of Louisiana."

The bishop, who met with St. Anthony Parish members on Sunday to explain his decision, said Alexander transferred to Lafayette 20 years after the incident the priest acknowledged happened.

"Father Alexander has served with distinction in the diocese and in St. Anthony Parish and we have no reason to believe that any abuse took place during his years of service in the diocese," O'Donnell said.

The Lafayette bishop said he would ask that anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy to speak out.

"We always ask that any person who believes that he or she has been abused or who is aware of any abuse of minors to report the matter to the appropriate civil authorities and church authorities," O'Donnell said. "Our prayers are with anyone who suffers from abuse, whatever the source."

and that Monsignor Robert Romero, vicar for the Northern Region, will serve as administrator of the parish until a new pastor is appointed.

In a press release dated Monday, O'Donnell said the action, was "necessitated by an accusation of sexual impropriety with a minor which occurred in the early 1960s while Father Alexander was a Benedictine brother of St. Maur's Prio in Uniontown, Ky., in the Diocese of Owensboro, Ky.

"Father Alexander has acknowledged his involvement in the behavior of which he is accused," the bishop said. "The person making the accusation has contacted the Diocese of Owensboro and our diocese."

Bishop John McRaith, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Owensboro, said Monday that the victim contacted his office first. McRaith did not identify the victim by name or age, nor did he say under what circumstances the victim and Alexander met.

"The alleged victim contacted us and we, in turn, put him in touch with the Diocese of Lafayette," McRaith said. McRaith added that Alexander was not a member of the Diocese of Owensboro at the time of the alleged incident, explaining that Alexander was a member of the Benedictine order and that the incident occurred in a seminary.

O'Donnell said Alexander has been a member of the Diocese of Lafayette since 1984, after he transferred here from Kentucky.

McRaith said that his office had not received any allegations regarding Alexander other than this one. His transfer was described as normal.

The Diocese of Lafayette was rocked by the sex scandal involving the former Rev. Gilbert Gauthe in the 1970s and 1980s. Gauthe, a Vermilion Parish priest, pleaded guilty in 1985 to 33 counts, including aggravated crimes against nature, committing sexually immoral acts with minors and pornography involving minors. A count of aggravated rape was dismissed. As part of a plea agreement, Gauthe was released in 1995.

"The person who raises this accusation has no connection with the Diocese of Lafayette," O'Donnell said. "None of the incidents brought up occurred anywhere in the state of Louisiana."

The bishop, who met with St. Anthony Parish members on Sunday to explain his decision, said Alexander transferred to Lafayette 20 years after the incident the priest acknowledged happened.

"Father Alexander has served with distinction in the diocese and in St. Anthony Parish and we have no reason to believe that any abuse took place during his years of service in the diocese," O'Donnell said.

The Lafayette bishop said he would ask that anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy to speak out.

"We always ask that any person who believes that he or she has been abused or who is aware of any abuse of minors to report the matter to the appropriate civil authorities and church authorities," O'Donnell said. "Our prayers are with anyone who suffers from abuse, whatever the source."

 
 

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