Bishop, Parishioners Discuss Abuse Allegations

By Angela Simoneaux
Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
July 30, 2002

RAYNE - Diocese of Lafayette Bishop Edward O'Donnell met with parishioners this weekend to address allegations of impropriety against a priest.

The allegations are that the Rev. Wilfred DesRosier sexually abused minors while he was pastor of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy from 1967 until 1972.

DesRosier, 84, denies the allegations. He lives at a nursing home in Canada.

According to a letter O'Donnell distributed to parishioners of the Shrine, four people recently notified the Society of St. Joseph, of which DesRosier is a member, that they were sexually abused by DesRosier when they were minors.

The Josephites have offered counseling to the victims and are investigating the charges according to their 1997 "Policy on Responding to Allegations of Sexual Misconduct," the bishop wrote.

O'Donnell told the parishioners that he has reviewed the Josephites' plans and approves of them.

"It should be noted that the Josephite community has accepted full responsibility for the handling of this matter," the bishop wrote.

O'Donnell wrote that he has appointed Father Joseph Verret as his delegate in the investigation. Verret will be staying in the rectory of the Shrine through Wednesday, O'Donnell wrote.

Verret is staying there to receive any information that any family member, victim or other parishioner wishes to report concerning the abuse of minors, O'Donnell wrote.

"The Josephites and Bishop O'Donnell are deeply saddened that such criminal and sinful actions may have taken place," the bishop's letter states. "We seek forgiveness from God, from the victims, and from families and parishioners. At this time of sorrow and repentance, we ask your prayers and cooperation." This is the third time this year that the Lafayette Diocese has notified the public of an allegation regarding a priest.

Earlier this month, Msgr. Michael Herpin was removed as vicar of the central region and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Broussard after he informed the diocese that he had "engaged in sexual impropriety with a minor about 30 years ago."In April, O'Donnell removed the Rev. Joseph Alexander from his duties in Eunice.

Alexander had been accused of having a sexual relationship with a teen-age boy 40 years ago in Kentucky before he was ordained as a priest.


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