Former deacon, whose son was abused by priest, excommunicated by Diocese of Lafayette

KADN - Fox 15 [Lafayette LA]

March 20, 2024

By Jim Hummel

Scott Peyton, a former deacon whose son was molested by a priest he served alongside in St. Landry Parish, has been excommunicated by Lafayette Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel.

Peyton served as a deacon in the diocese until December 2023. That’s when he resigned citing “distressing revelations regarding sexual abuse scandals involving members of the clergy.”

“The magnitude of these revelations has deeply shaken my faith and trust in the institution to which I have dedicated a significant portion of my life,” Peyton wrote in his resignation letter to Bishop Deshotel. “This decision is not a rejection of my faith in God or my commitment to living a life guided by Christian principles. Instead, it reflects a conscientious objection to the way the Church has handled cases of sexual abuse, and a desire to distance myself from an institution that, currently, falls short of the values it professes.”

In 2019, Father Michael Guidry was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting Peyton’s teenage son. Peyton and Guidry served together at St. Peter’s Church in Morrow. The family settled a civil lawsuit against the diocese in 2021. 

Bishop Deshotel wrote to Peyton following his resignation. 

“I was sad to receive your email deciding to leave the Church and cease to exercise your vocation as Deacon,” wrote Bishop Deshotel in an email provided by Peyton to News 15. “I will remember you in my prayers and masses that you be open to the gift of faith in the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ and built on the Apostles. Sacramentally you are a Deacon though you choose not to exercise your ministry.”

But this week, months after he resigned, Peyton received a decree from Bishop Deshotel stating that he had been excommunicated from the church. 

In the letter to Peyton, Bishop Deshotel wrote:

“A bishop never wishes to communicate a censure to anyone. I am aware that your family has suffered a trauma but the answer does not lie in leaving the Most Holy Eucharist: We are not Catholics because the Church on earth is perfect but because the Lord has entrusted us to a mystery greater than ourselves, which He established as the means to our salvation. The censures of the Church are intended to be medicinal, perhaps as much for those who impose them as for those who are subject to them. It is with this objective that I mournfully must declare them.”

Peyton worries his excommunication sends a harmful message to survivors of clergy sex abuse, especially given there is no indication his son’s abuser has been excommunicated. 

“If molesting a child is not grave enough to get excommunicated, but telling the bishop that I don’t agree with how he’s running the diocese and how the church is handling the sex abuse crisis, if that’s a grave sin, then I guess I’ll wear the badge of excommunication as an honor. I think the hypocrisy in this excommunication speaks volumes of the leadership of Bishop Deshotel. I think he should resign his leadership and those that are running this diocese behind the scenes should step down along with him,” explained Peyton. 

News 15 has reached out to the Diocese of Lafayette for comment, we’re waiting to hear back.