Ex-Priest Child Abuser to Be Freed Today

By Paige Hewitt
Houston Chronicle
April 20, 2010

Ex-priest child abuser to be freed today

One of the nation's most notorious priest pedophiles is scheduled to be released from the Galveston County Jail today after serving a two-year sentence for failing to register as a sex offender.

Former Catholic priest Gilbert Gauthe, 64, who in 1985 was convicted on 34 counts of child molestation and possession of child pornography in a Louisiana case, was arrested by La Marque police in April, 2008.

Gauthe was living in his recreational vehicle at Galveston State Park when police arrested him for failing to register. Before then, he was living in La Marque and driving for a limousine service.

Gauthe has remained in the Galveston County Jail on a $200,000 bail since his arrest. Last month, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison. He served the entire term at the county jail and is ordered to register with the state's sexual offenders program for life.

Health complaints

Gilbert Gauthe, a former Catholic priest, is to be released from Galveston County Jail today after serving two years for failure to register as a sex offender.

Galveston County officials said plans for today's scheduled release could change, depending on when the state processes his paperwork.

It is unknown where Gauthe will go after his release. He declined an interview request last week. His appointed defense attorney, David Suhler, did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the Galveston County District Attorney's Office.

While in the Galveston County Jail, Gauthe claimed to be suffering from "deteriorating health," according to a letter his attorney filed with the court, asking for a personal bond. "He has a lump under his left nipple that is causing extreme pain and weight of an undershirt is painful to that condition," the letter read, adding that Gauthe also suffered from high blood pressure and "extreme pain and pressure in his colon two or three times a month."

More than 100 Louisiana church boys accused Gauthe of molestation and sodomy. In 1985, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but was released after serving less than nine years. Gauthe's case spawned an avalanche of lawsuits stemming from sexual abuse allegations against priests. Millions were paid to his victims.

'He's a dangerous guy'

In 1996, less than a year after his release, Gauthe was living in Polk County in East Texas when a 3-year-old boy said the former priest took him to get ice cream and fondled him. Because the child's mother did not want the boy to take the stand, prosecutors were forced to reduce the charge to injury to a child, for which he was sentenced to seven years probation, said Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon.

"He's a dangerous guy," Hon said. "Based on the offense he committed in our county and certainly with his extensive criminal background, he is certainly a risk. He needs to be monitored. The public needs to be aware of his presence. He's a pedophile, and if he's healthy and capable of getting around and being around children, he has the potential to re-offend."


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