NEW ORLEANS (LA)
July 24, 2019
By Ben Myers
The Diocese of Lake Charles is defending the accuracy of its list of clergymen credibly accused of child sex abuse.
The Advocate reported last week that diocesan officials knew of allegations against two priests, Gerard Smit and Mark Broussard, years before the dates indicated on the list. During the intervening periods, the bishop at the time, the late Jude Speyrer, sent Smit and Broussard to a Catholic-run treatment center known for receiving accused priests and he subsequently helped them continue working as priests, records show.
The diocese said in a statement Tuesday, “we maintain that the list is both accurate and thorough,” without elaborating or disputing anything in the article.
Church officials said in an interview the list reflects the dates of the earliest written allegations on file. That standard was established by an independent review panel to ensure proper verification, they said. The panel, composed of “legal and judicial professionals,” according to the statement, investigated church records and compiled the list.
SNAP, a national advocacy organization for priest abuse victims, condemned the diocese’s rationale as “yet another loophole that church officials found and used to continue to hide the fact that they were aware of abuse allegations against Fr. Gerard Smit and Fr. Mark Broussard long before they were willing to admit.”
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