The List: Accusations of Abuse in The Diocese of Lafayette

January 13, 2019

[with video]

Fifteen years after acknowledging it exists, and months after promising its release, the Diocese of Lafayette still has not released a list of priests who have faced credible accusations of sexual abuse involving children. KATC Investigates is breaking that silence, and releasing its own list.

In Louisiana, both the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux have followed through on a pledge of transparency, joining more than 70 dioceses and Catholic religious organizations across the country who have released their lists. 

Just last week the Diocese in Lafayette said they are still examining the past 50 years of files and will release their list when they’re finished.

The “list” was first acknowledged by the Diocese of Lafayette in February 2004 by former Bishop Michael Jarrell; our reporters have been requesting the diocese disclose those names since then.  They refused until last fall, when Bishop Douglas Deshotel joined other dioceses in the state in making the pledge to release them.

KATC believes the public has waited long enough, and has a right to know, so we are releasing the list of priests with credible accusations we’ve assembled following years of pouring over public records and media reports, using all the investigative techniques we know.

KATC Investigates started by putting together a list of priests and church employees who have been accused of sexual abuse. Our producers and reporters then scoured thousands of pages of documents – all public records – to find support for these accusations in the form of criminal charges, civil suit settlements, diocese statements and court case evidence. Some of those records are recent, some decades old.

While we have continually run up against roadblocks – some cases remain sealed, some have been destroyed – we still found more than twice the number of credibly accused priests that Bishop Jarrell acknowledged in 2004.

We aired the first part of our series tonight. The second part airs tomorrow night at 10 p.m.

These installments are just the beginning; this is a developing story that we will continue to update as more information is obtained.

The list

Those who made our list had to have served in the Diocese of Lafayette and had to meet one of the following criteria:

* The diocese settled a lawsuit filed against them that included an accusation of abuse.

* A religious group announced there was a credible accusation against them.

* They were arrested or law enforcement publicly announced that they were under investigation.

* They have pending criminal cases or civil suits filed against them.

DISCLAIMER: Although the men included on this list have had a credible allegation made against them, this list should not imply the allegations are true or that the individual has been found guilty or is liable for civil claims.  

(7) They were arrested or law enforcement publicly announced that they were under investigation:

Jules Arceneaux (Acadia, St. Landry Parishes)

Felix David Broussard(Acadia, Evangeline, St. Landry, St. Martin, Vermilion Parishes)

Mark A. Broussard  (Calcasieu, Cameron, Lafayette Parishes)

Lane Fontenot (Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Mary Parishes)

Gilbert Gauthe (Iberia, Lafayette, Vermilion Parishes)

Mark Richard (Acadia Parish)

Norman Rogge (St. Landry Parish)

(2) Priests with pending civil or criminal charges:

Michael Guidry (Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Mary Parishes)

Kenneth Morvant (Acadia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin Parishes)

(13) The diocese settled a lawsuit filed against them that included an accusation of abuse:

Susai Arul  (Evangeline, Lafayette, St. Landry Parishes)

J.M. Bourgeois (Evangeline Parish)

Lester Breaux (Lafayette Parish)

George Curtis (Iberia Parish)

John Anthony Mary Engbers (Acadia, Calcasieu, Jeff Davis, St. Landry, St. Mary Parishes)

Aldeo Gilbert (Acadia, Evangeline, Lafayette Parishes)

Marshall Larriviere (Lafayette, Vermilion Parishes)

Robert Limoges (Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry Parishes)

Samuel Martinez (Lafayette Parish)

Steven Parks (St. Landry Parish)

David Primeaux (Lafayette Parish)

Valerie Pullman (Jeff Davis, Lafayette Parishes)

Harry Quick  (Calcasieu, Jeff Davis, Lafayette, St. Landry Parishes)

(14) Priests named as having credible accusations by any diocese or religious group:

Joseph Alexander  (Lafayette, St. Landry Parishes)

Stanley Begnaud (Acadia, Calcasieu, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Mary, Vermilion Parishes)

Jody Blanchard (St. Landry)

John Bostwick (St. Mary)

Pierre Celestin Cambiaire (St. Landry)

Wilfrid DesRosiers  (Acadia, St. Landry Parishes)

Lloyd Hebert (Calcasieu, Iberia, St. Landry, Vermilion Parishes)

Michael Herpin  (Calcasieu, Iberia, Jennings, Lafayette, St. Landry Parishes)

Austin Park (St. Landry Parish)

Joseph Pellettieri (Acadia Parish)

Donald Pousson (Acadia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Mary Parishes)

Robie Robichaux (Acadia, Iberia, Lafayette Parishes)

Jody Simoneaux (Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry Parishes)

Gerard Smit (Acadia, Calcasieu, Jeff Davis, St. Landry Parishes)

Supplemental List:  

(3) Priests with the Lafayette diocese who had credible accusations filed by an adult victim 

Paul Metrejean (Acadia, Calcasieu, Iberia, St. Landry, St. Martin, Vermilion Parishes) 

Grady J. Estilette (Lafayette, Vermilion Parishes)

Charles Zaunbrecher  (Acadia, Lafayette Parishes)

(1) Priest with credible accusations with ties to the Lafayette diocese

John Andries  (Vermilion Parish)

(2) People who meet one of the above criteria and were affiliated with the diocese, but weren’t members of the clergy

Maura Dwight Hebert (St. Landry Parish)

Carlos Streva (St. Mary Parish)

To see our story about clergy with credible accusations in the Houma-Thibodaux diocese, which includes Morgan City, click here.

Historical Background

The sexual abuse of children by priests in the United States didn’t start with Gilbert Gauthe, but the public discussion and acknowledgement of it did – making the Diocese of Lafayette ground zero for a 30-year crisis.

Gauthe was ordained in 1971 and later testified that he began molesting children immediately. Within a year of his first assignment, complaints were made to the Lafayette diocese.  What followed was, in many ways, a case study for the Church’s failure to properly handle child sex abuse by priests. Every time complaints were made, Gauthe was sent to counseling, and then to a different parish – without any warning to the families there. This went on for 10 years, and ended with lawsuits that cost the church millions and a 10-year prison sentence for Gauthe. He once estimated that he molested hundreds of children.  

Within two years of Gauthe’s conviction the abuse of children by Catholic clergy was perceived to be a crisis nationwide, and in 1986 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met to adopt a response plan. That plan offered general advice only, and is largely considered to be a failure.  

In 2002, the Conference met again on the issue and this time adopted a charter document that states no one known to have sexually abused a child will work in the church. They apologized to everyone who was harmed by priests and by the church’s “tragically slow response.”

However, the bishops refuse to state that all credibly accused priests will be defrocked, a disappointment to victims’ groups. In 2011, that charter was revised to add concrete rules and requirements for individual dioceses aimed at ensuring complaints were handled quickly, ethically and transparently.

The Diocese of Lafayette has committed to release the names of the clergy who have credible accusations of sex abuse against them.  Bishop Douglas Deshotel made the announcement with four other bishops in October of 2018.

“Disclosure of that list is a good idea to foster healing and provide assurance that no one accused of abuse is currently serving in the ministry,” Deshotel said. “Because of the extent and complexity of the research, the process will take time and it’s impossible to predict precisely when that process will be completed.”

It should be noted that Deshotel’s promise to release the list came more than 14 years after former Bishop MIchael Jarrell acknowledged that the list existed.

Following the release of names from the Houma-Thibodaux diocese, Bishop Deshotel issued the following statement:

“Our Diocese, along with others across the state, is currently engaged in extensive
and complex research to compile an accurate list of priests credibly accused of
abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult and removed from ministry. We intend to
release that list as soon as the process of examining 50 years of clergy files very
closely and carefully is completed.”

How to get help

KATC recognizes that hearing these stories will trigger memories and anguish for victims.

If you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault and you need help, there is help available.

We’ve put together a list of locations to find help, and numbers to call for help. You can find it here.

If you believe that a crime has been committed, please call your local law enforcement, or dial 911.


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