Diocese of Lafayette Defends Priest As Abuse Allegations Resurface
July 31, 2014
The Diocese of Lafayette is defending one of its priests after old allegations of sexual abuse resurface in a report by Minnesota Public Radio.
Father Gilbert Dutel (pictured) is the priest at St. Edmund Catholic Church in Lafayette. In a recently-released court deposition from 1992, an alleged victim claimed Fr. Dutel sexually abused him when he was a child.
When the allegations first surfaced in the 1990's, the Diocese of Lafayette, under then-Bishop Harry Flynn, investigated and found no truth to the allegations against Fr. Dutel.
The Diocese of Lafayette released the following statement Wednesday:
Many years ago, unproven allegations were made about Father Gilbert Dutel. An investigation took place back then which considered the totality of the facts available. No new information exists that warrants any action by the Diocese. In the absence of any contrary information, Father Dutel remains a priest in good standing at the Diocese of Lafayette.
The Diocese of Lafayette is committed to providing a safe environment for children. Anyone who has been a victim of abuse by church personnel or who may have information concerning a crime is encouraged to call a local law enforcement agency.
In light of the report by Minnesota Public Radio, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, SNAP, is calling for Father Dutel to be suspended.
"We urge Bishop Michael Jarrell to immediately oust Fr. Dutel and use his vast resources to beg anyone who saw, suspects or suffered crimes by Dutel to come forward, call police and start healing," SNAP spokesperson David Clohessy wrote in a statement.
The Diocese of Lafayette is standing by Father Dutel.
"The allegations were quite some time ago," said Monsignor Richard Greene with the Diocese of Lafayette. "Without additional allegations with any proof, the Bishop would have a priest remain in ministry.
Father Dutel held daily Mass as usual on Wednesday in front of a full room of about 30 faithful at St. Edmund Catholic Church.
"I'm so grateful to be here and see all of you here," he told his parish, adding that he had heard from many supporters.
During his sermon, he said he felt especially connected to today's scripture.
"'God is our refugee on the day of distress.' He sure is," Dutel said.
Dutel never addressed the allegations directly, but asked faithful to pray for the Parish.
"That's my main concern. That people still see it as a good place," Dutel said.
KATC has not found any lawsuit filed against Fr. Dutel and there have never been any criminal charges against him. In fact, this is the first time his name was made public in connection with sex-abuse allegations.
In the deposition, the alleged victim also mentioned sexual abuse by two other priests. Father Lane Fontenot and Father David Primeaux. We did find out-of-court settlements relating to those priests.
The associated press reports Fr. Fontenot was later convicted in Spokane, Washington on child sexual abuse charges. Father Primeaux faced years of accusations, before committing suicide in 2012.