Records show no prior complaints against Lafayette diocese priest accused of sexual abuse

By Claire Taylor
Daily Advertiser
June 04, 2018

Bishop Douglas Deshotel of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, at a news conference Monday, June 4, 2018.

Defrocked priest Gilbert Gauthe leaves jail in 2000.

[with video]

Diocesan records for the Rev. Michael Guidry, a church pastor accused last week of sexual abuse of a minor, show no prior complaints, Bishop Douglas Deshotel said at a news conference Monday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette issued a news release Saturday stating the diocese was informed of an allegation of abuse of a minor by Guidry.

As a result, Guidry, 75, was placed on administrative leave pending investigations by the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office and the diocese.

Sexual abuse accusation involves one victim and one incident, bishop said

Deshotel said Monday he believes the single alleged sexual abuse incident occurred at St. Peter Church parish, which is located in the St. Landry Parish community of Morrow. The congregation is "very small," he said, with 75 to 100 families.

Guidry also is pastor of Resurrection Chapel in the community of Whiteville, also in St. Landry Parish. That congregation consists of about 50 families.

Guidry has served at St. Peter Church about nine years, Deshotel said. The alleged victim is now an adult.

According to the St. Peter Church website, Guidry was born and raised in Rayne. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1971 at St. John Cathedral in Lafayette. In 1976, he was appointed pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Scott. He has served in other parishes throughout the diocese.

The church will assist the accused priest in paying his attorney

The parents of the alleged victim, who is male, along with the pastor of a church the family currently attends in Ville Platte, notified the diocese last week of the alleged abuse incident, Deshotel said. 

The bishop did not personally meet with the alleged victim or his parents, nor did he meet with Guidry, Deshotel said 

The church, he said, will provide partial payment to Guidry's attorney and assist the priest in locating an attorney who specializes in church law. The diocese is required by church law to assist accused priests in determining if an accusation is a crime or not.

No priests credibly accused of abuse remain with the diocese, Deshotel said. 

First big case of priest sexual abuse occurred in Acadiana

By many accounts, the first major cases of priest sex abuse were exposed after 2000 in Boston and Minnesota. But one of the earliest cases of priest pedophilia actually occurred in South Louisiana.

Gilbert Gauthe's case drew nationwide attention in the 1980s. Gauthe, a priest at the time, admitted raping or sodomizing more than 35 victims as early as 1972 in Broussard, New Iberia, Abbeville and Henry.

Gauthe, who was transferred from church parish to church parish, pleaded guilty in 1986 to 11 counts of child molestation. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison but only served 10 years.

In 2014, Bishop Michael Jarrell said the Diocese of Lafayette and its insurers paid $26 million to 123 victims of priest sex abuse between 1950 and 2002.

Will Deshotel release the names of priests whose victims were paid by the diocese?

Ten years later, in 2014, The Daily Advertiser asked Jarrell to release the names of the priests whose victims were paid settlements by the diocese or its insurers..

The request was made after sworn statements from the 1990s alleging abuse by local priests came to light

Monsignor Richard Green in 2014 responded that the diocese would not release the priests' names. He said, "Bishop Jarrell sees no purpose in such action."

Deshotel, who has been bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette for two years, was asked by The Daily Advertiser at his news conference Monday if he would release the names of those priests.

He replied that he is unaware of any list of priests' names and he would have to research. Deshotel never provided a clear answer on whether he would conduct that research and release the names of all priests whose victims were paid settlements by the diocese or its insurers.



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