Police: Sex Offender Priest Didn't Register

By Chris Paschenko
Galveston County Daily News
April 25, 2008

LA MARQUE — A former Catholic priest who admitted to sexually abusing 11 boys two decades ago remained jailed Thursday on a charge of failing to register in La Marque as a sex offender.

Gilbert John Gauthe, 63, was arrested shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday at Galveston Island State Park and remained jailed on a $200,000 bond.

Gauthe was living in a motor home in La Marque when he recently became the center of a broadcast news expos.

Capt. Donnie Head of La Marque police said Gauthe garnered national attention as one of the first Catholic priests accused in multiple cases of child sexual abuse. Head said Gauthe admitted to molesting 39 young boys in Louisiana.

Gauthe was part of the Lafayette, La., diocese. He was convicted of molesting boys in the 1970s, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison but served 10 years after pleading guilty in 1985 to sexually abusing 11 boys.

After his release from prison, Gauthe resided in Polk County, where he was accused of sexually assaulting a 3-year-old boy. He pleaded guilty in 1997 to a charge of injury to a child and received probation.

"It was the 20th anniversary of the case, I believe, and (ABC) Channel 13 was looking for him. The address he gave was a vacant house on FM 1765 near where he was working for a charter bus company," Head said.

A loophole in Texas law didn't require Gauthe to register as a sex offender until 2005.

"Once we located him last week, we advised him under the new law that he had to register. He claimed he didn't know about the new law, and we told him he had to register for the rest of his life and check in every 90 days."

Head said Gauthe left La Marque because of media attention and was arrested because he lied about his employment.

"He did advise he was leaving, but he said he would be back to work. His employer said he no longer worked there and would not be back," Head said.

Gauthe wouldn't have been charged had he stayed in La Marque, Head said.

"He's got to notify us where he's going, and he didn't do that," Head said.

Gauthe faces no other charges by La Marque police, and Head said Gauthe wasn't accused in any improper contact with children in Galveston County.

Gauthe also left La Marque because he feared for his safety, La Marque police detective Geoff Price said.

"He was scared people would find him. From what he told me, he'd received death threats in the past, but none (recently)," Price said.

Price said he didn't know whether Gauthe would return to La Marque following his release from the Galveston County Jail.

When he is released, he has seven days to register an address with police, Price said.


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