Accused priest’s records show effort by the church to conceal scandal


April 18, 2019

By Jim Hummel

When the Diocese of Lafayette released its list of accused priests last week, 11 of the 37 members of clergy had never been publicly accused. Among them is the Rev. John de Leeuw, who made arrangements to defend himself in death.

Shortly after publishing the church’s list, KATC was contacted by a friend of de Leeuw, who shared with us more than 100 pages of documents the late priest kept about his case. The documents feature his personnel file, correspondence from the diocese, and notes about the accusations his friend says were handwritten by de Leeuw.

The documents provide de Leeuw’s side of the story, but they also show how the diocese was concerned about “scandal” and tried to minimize publicity on cases of clergy sex abuse as recently as 2013.

The accusations
In 2011, more than 20 years after his retirement, de Leeuw was removed from active ministry by the diocese following accusations of sexual abuse involving minors. His removal was only made public last week, when the diocese released its list of credibly accused clergy.

In January, concerned about diminishing transparency and openness from the diocese, KATC published its own list of accused priests. De Leeuw was not on our list because up until now, there was no public record of a complaint. Concerned about his absence from our list, Nancy Mouton reached out to tell her family’s story.

“Father John de Leeuw, past pastor of St. Leo the Great, sexually abused me and most of my six siblings in our home for many years,” said Mouton. “He was a regular visitor and dinner guest at our home. It was a very large home where the abuse went undetected.”

Documents provided by de Leeuw’s friend indicate one of Mouton’s older sisters, who is now deceased, was his initial accuser.

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