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  Allegations against Two More Priests in South Louisiana

By Jessica Bujol
Associated Press State & Local Wire
April 17, 2002

Allegations of sexual misconduct against two more south Louisiana priests have surfaced.

One involves a Jesuit priest from Grand Coteau whose guilty plea to a sex offense in Florida years ago was uncovered by a newspaper reporter.

The other was an Alexandria-area priest being investigated for alleged sexual abuse of a teen-age boy while staying in his family's Abbeville home.

The two cases were first reported Wednesday by the Times of Acadiana, which published articles on a months-long investigation by reporter Louis Rom.

No one answered at the priests' churches and neither could be reached for comment.

Lafayette District Attorney Michael Harson confirmed that his office is looking into the allegation about the Rev. John Andries, pastor of St. Margaret Church in Boyce.

Harson said a bedspread has been sent to the state crime lab for DNA tests, which could be compared to a semen sample from Andries. He said he is awaiting results of the test before deciding whether to prosecute.

Names of the boy and his family were not made public.

Anthony Fontana, lawyer for the family, said the diocese told him that Andries had been removed from the pulpit.

"But then my client goes to a football game and sees him on the bench leading the team in prayer," Fontana said.

A spokesman for the diocese referred all questions to the bishop who was unavailable.

Fontana said this was not the first allegation against Andries. He said church lawyers acknowledged in a letter that there had been a prior incident involving sexual misconduct, but it gave no details.

In the second south Louisiana case, the newspaper investigation turned up a guilty plea in 1985 in Citrus County, Fla., by the Rev. Norman Rogge, in recent years a priest at St. Charles Borromeo in Grand Coteau.

The charges were sexual battery on a child under 16 and with performing a lewd and lascivious act in the presence of a child. The newspaper said Florida records showed he pleaded guilty to the charge of performing a lewd and lascivious act and was ordered to undergo counseling.

Prosecutors in Inverness, Fla., said Wednesday they could not confirm the plea to The Associated Press because the case was so old the records were warehoused.

A spokesman for the Jesuit Provincial headquarters in New Orleans said Rogge is no longer functioning as a priest. In a letter, Thomas H. Stahel said that during the years Father Rogge was at Grand Coteau, the Jesuits received no complaints about him with regard to sexual misconduct.

The reports came on the same day that The Times-Picayune reported a sharp shift in policy by the Archdiocese of New Orleans in reporting allegations of sexual misconduct by priests.

The newspaper said that Archbishop Alfred Hughes will soon turn over to local police and sheriffs the past allegations of sexual abuse that have lain dormant in archdiocesan files for years.

In addition, Hughes ordered a rewriting of the archdiocesan policy to explicitly order church officials to notify law enforcement authorities every time such complaints are received.

The developments follow the removal Sunday of the Rev. Joseph Alexander from his post as pastor at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Eunice.

Alexander admitted to a sexual impropriety with a male teen-ager about 40 years ago in Kentucky when Alexander was a Benedictine monk at St. Maur's Priory in Uniontown, Ky., and was not yet ordained as a Catholic priest.

Further details were not released.

Alexander, 69, the first black to serve the predominantly white parish, has been placed on administrative leave.

The person who made the accusation first contacted the Diocese of Owensboro in Kentucky, and church officials there told him to contact the Diocese of Lafayette. His name was not made public and there is no indication whether he reported the incident to law enforcement authorities.

 
 

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