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  Priest Pleads Guilty
Andries Faces up to 10 Years in Prison

By Louisiana Gannett
Daily Town Talk
May 3, 2003

LAFAYETTE - A former Catholic priest from Rapides Parish pleaded guilty Friday to charges that he molested a 16-year-old boy while spending the night at the family's home in Abbeville.

John Wesley Andries, 48, faces from one to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of molestation of a juvenile.

Sentencing is set for May 19.

Andries was the pastor of St. Margaret Catholic Church in Boyce when the allegation surfaced. It was the second sexual misconduct allegation against Andries.

The Catholic Diocese of Alexandria has acknowledged that he was suspended from the priesthood after a previous allegation in Natchitoches Parish but was allowed to return after psychological testing and counseling, according to published reports.

The Abbeville victim's parents, Daniel and Deborah Brown, claimed in a lawsuit that Andries molested their son.

Andries was accused of molesting the boy in June 2001 while sleeping in an extra bed in the boy's room. The boy's family invited the priest to spend the night at their home.

The Browns said Andries engaged in sexual misconduct by touching the boy's private parts.

The boy and his family agreed to Friday's plea by Andries, according to court records.

Attorney Anthony Fontana, who represents the victim's family in a lawsuit filed against Andries and the Diocese of Alexandria, said the plea deal Andries agreed to Friday requires at least some jail time, psychological counseling and registration as a sex offender.

The plea came during a hearing that included the issue of whether Andries' trial, which had been scheduled for this month, should be moved from Vermilion Parish because of pre-trial publicity.

"It was a complete surprise," Fontana said of the guilty plea.

He said Andries had previously rejected all plea offers.

Last year, Andries pleaded innocent to a charge of sexual battery of a juvenile in the Abbeville case.

The Brown family has sued Andries, the Alexandria Diocese and Bishop Sam Jacobs on behalf of the boy.

Bishop Jacobs four years ago removed Andries from Natchitoches Parish after a family complained about alleged inappropriate behavior involving the priest and a juvenile.

At the time that allegation was made, Andries had duties at three churches in Natchitoches Parish - Nativity Catholic Church in Campti, Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Black Lake and St. Joseph Catholic Church in the Clarence area.

No charges were filed in the Natchitoches Parish incident.

 
 

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