Diocese May Send Sexual Abuse Allegation to Abuse Review Board

July 31, 2014

The Diocese of Lafayette is considering a review of an investigation they did decades ago on abuse allegations by a current priest.

Father Gilbert Dutel was named in a deposition from 1992, that was recently uncovered by a Minnesota Public Radio investigation. The Lafayette Diocese told KATC they investigated the claims at the time and the allegations were never proven.

However, today, Bishop Michael Jarrell tells KATC he may submit the matter to the Diocesan Abuse Review Board. Dutel's name was not listed in any lawsuit or criminal filings as a defendant.

KATC did find new details on just how much the diocese has paid out and how many allegations were made.

About 50 families were paid about $23.5 million in settlements from 1983 to 1991 after they were apparently abused by priests employed by the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, according to court documents.

The documents, part of a federal lawsuit in which the Diocese of Lafayette sued its insurers for help paying settlements to sexual abuse victims, were unsealed in 1998. But public knowledge of the more than 4,500 pages of archived federal court documents went unknown until recently.

Some 83 claims of sexual abuse were brought to the attention of the Diocese from 1983 to 1991. Most of the abuse happened in the late 1970s and 1980s when the "Diocese of Lafayette had in its employee not 1 or 2, but numerous pedophile priests," insurance companies allege in court documents.

The first nine claims -- all against Father Gilbert Gauthe -- were settled for $4.1 million in 1983. Another 10 claims against Gauthe after 1987 were settled for $3.5 million. Three claims against Father Lane Fontenot were settled for $607,454.

It's unclear who the alleged abusers were in the other settlements, but we are continuing to dig through documents. The insurance company does note that the Diocese employed eight priests it definitely knew were molesting children and "must have known" that at least four more priests were also abusing children.

In a 2004 statement to parishioners, Bishop Michael Jarrell acknowledged there were credible accusations against 15 priests. KATC has requested that list from the diocese, as well as the status of their employment. The Diocese said they are researching the information








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.