Diocese of Lafayette Files Protective Order in Request for List of Accused Priests
By Jim Hummel
January 31, 2019
The diocese of Lafayette calls a legal request for its list of accused priests “unnecessary”, “grandstanding” and “irrelevant” to the case filed against a St. Landry Parish priest who’s accused of molesting a boy.
Abbeville attorney Tony Fontana filed suit on behalf of a St. Landry Parish man who claims he was molested by Father Michael Guidry while he was a minor. Also named as plaintiffs in the case are the man’s parents; his father is a deacon in the diocese, who served alongside Fr. Guidry at St. Peter’s Church in Morrow.
In October, Fontana filed Interrogatories and Requests for Production to Guidry and the Diocese of Lafayette in the lawsuit. Interrogatories are questions that parties in a lawsuit ask each other; Requests for Production are requests for documents. Answering them is not optional – there are deadlines and requirements that parties have to follow. If the questions aren’t answered, the court gets involved to order compliance.
In his filing, Fontana requested that the diocese name all priests who have credible complaints against them since 2002, as well as all church employees who have credible complaints against them.
In their formal response this month, the diocese objected to the requests, calling them impermissibly vague, grandstanding, unnecessary, and irrelevant. The diocese then filed a motion for a protective order against the plaintiffs’ request.
In response to the action by the diocese, Fontana says he’ll be changing the scope of his lawsuit. He argues over decades, the diocese has created a culture of protecting priests, that enabled Fr. Guidry to molest his client.
“I’m changing my whole lawsuit,” Fontana said. “I’m changing it to go after them for conspiracy for all these years, that they enabled and created this atmosphere for protection. So that’s conspiracy, they’re joining into the crime.”
Today, following the release of names by the diocese in Baton Rouge, a statement was released by the Lafayette diocese, saying they are still researching in order to compile their list.