|Ex-Priest Jailed on Probation Violation
Police Say He Failed to Register As Sex Offender before Move to Galveston
By Harvey Rice
April 24, 2008
[with recent photo]
LA MARQUE — The Catholic priest whose admission to molesting boys more than 20 years ago set loose a flood of lawsuits has been arrested on allegations of failing to register as a sex offender, La Marque police said Thursday.
Former priest Gilbert Gauthe, 62, was living in a recreational vehicle at Galveston Island State Park when he was arrested Wednesday, police Detective Geoff Price said.
Gauthe admitted to molesting 37 boys in the Diocese of Lafayette, La., 22 years ago. He pleaded guilty to 34 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of child pornography in 1985.
After his conviction, hundreds of other priests in Louisiana and the United States were accused of child molestation. Scores of civil lawsuits resulted from the charges, at least 25 against the Diocese of Lafayette.
Gauthe's attorney and two priests wrote a document in 1986 warning the church of a potential scandal and billions of dollars in potential liability, but it was not heeded until 2002, when U.S. bishops adopted their own plan for dealing with sexual abuse.
Gauthe was released from prison in 1995 after serving nine years of a 20-year sentence. A year later he pleaded no contest to charges that he molested a 3-year-old boy in Polk County and was sentenced to seven years probation.
It's uncertain when Gauthe came to Galveston County, but a sheriff's deputy discovered that he was in La Marque, working for a limousine company and living on company property in La Marque, Price said.
Price registered Gauthe as a sex offender, but then discovered that Gauthe had moved his recreational vehicle to Galveston State Park without providing the required seven-day notification.
Price said Gauthe told him he was still employed by the limousine company and was trying to avoid publicity after being tracked down and interviewed by a local television station.
Gauthe was arrested after Price discovered he was no longer employed by the limousine company and could not return to the property.
If convicted, Gauthe could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $10,000. He is awaiting trail in the Galveston County Jail in lieu of a $200,000 bail.
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