Priest Pleads Innocent in Sex Abuse Case
By Bernard Chaillot
May 23, 2002
ABBEVILLE -- A Rapides Parish priest pleaded innocent Wednesday to a charge of sexual battery on an Abbeville teen-ager.
The Rev. John W. Andries of Boyce, former pastor of St. Margaret Catholic Church there, appeared before 15th Judicial District Judge Marilyn Castle to waive formal arraignment and enter his plea.
Dressed in a business suit, Andries, who has been suspended by the Catholic Diocese of Alexandria, did not address the court Wednesday. His attorney, J. Rodney Baum, Baton Rouge, entered the innocent plea.
Castle gave Baum and Assistant District Attorney Ted Ayo 30 days to enter pre-trial motions. The judge did not set a trial date for Andries, who is free on $75,000 bond after being charged May 9.
Prosecutors allege that Andries, who was suspended from church duties before on another allegation of sexual misconduct but reinstated after psychological counseling, abused the Abbeville youth last June.
Attorney Anthony Fontana Jr., Abbeville, representing the boy's family, said Andries was visiting the family and was invited to spend the night in a spare bed in the boy's bedroom. Fontana said the youth, then 16, awoke the next morning damp with bodily fluids that were on his bed linens and his back.
DNA testing, the results of which were submitted to District Attorney Mike Harson's office during the first week in May, led to the allegation against the defendant, who turned himself in to authorities.
Diocese of Alexandria spokeswoman Sue Masden said Wednesday that diocesan officials have no comment on the case. Baum could not be reached for comment at his Baton Rouge office.
The case is the third sex-related scandal this year involving Catholic priests in south Louisiana amid a nationwide flood of allegations against members of the clergy.
The Rev. Joseph Alexander, 69, was removed from St. Anthony Catholic Church, Eunice, after admitting to sexual misconduct with a teen-age boy four decades ago in Kentucky. Catholic Diocese of Lafayette officials said the Rev. Norman J. Rogge, 75, formerly of St. Charles seminary, Grand Coteau, also is no longer serving as a priest after a 1985 conviction for the sexual abuse of a boy in Florida came to light.
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