Former St. Landry priest sentenced to seven years hard labor for molesting teen
By Ashley White
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
April 30, 2019
|The Rev. Michael Guidry surrendered Thursday morning at the St. Landry Parish jail. Guidry is accused of sexually assaulting a minor.|
A former St. Landry Parish priest was sentenced to seven years of hard labor and three years of probation for sexually assaulting a teen boy.
Michael Guidry, 76, pleaded guilty to molesting a juvenile in March. He faced a maximum of 10 years.
"There are certain things in life that we just can't tolerate and one of those is the sexual abuse of children by priests," said 27th Judicial District Court Judge Alonzo Harris when he handed down the sentence Tuesday. "If you cannot trust the men of God for spiritual guidance, then who can you trust?"
Guidry was the longtime former leader of St. Peter Church in Morrow. Authorities said they opened the investigation after the victim reported he'd been given alcohol before being sexually molested by Guidry at the priest's home.
The report was made last year, but the abuse happened when the victim was 16. He's now 20.
The victim, his parents Letitia and Scott Peyton and one of his five siblings were in the courtroom for the sentencing hearing. About 50 other supporters of the Peyton family sat in the center pews. St. Landry Parish District Attorney Earl Taylor, who Scott Peyton said stood beside the family since the complaint was filed, also was in attendance.
Letitia and Scott Peyton and the victim's brother all took to the stand to ask Harris for the maximum sentence. They said the abuse caused chaos and pain for their family.
"Guidry was the opposite of what Christ should be. He was the anti-Christ," Scott Peyton, who is a deacon in the Dioceses of Lafayette, read from his victim impact statement. "This was a wicked deed committed by a wicked man."
Guidry's attorney, Kevin Stockstill argued for lenient sentencing for Guidry. He said his age, health and lack of prior misconduct should be factored in. Stockstill also provided letters of support on behalf of Guidry.
Before the sentencing was read, Guidry apologized.
"I'm very sorry for the things that happened," he said. "I'm sorry for the pain I've caused."
Larry Benoit, a clinical psychologist who has been working with sexual offenders for more than 30 years, said Guidry has been receiving treatment for the past year and he has a 2.8 percent chance of re-offending.
But Assistant District Attorney Alisa Gothreaux passionately argued in her closing statements that Guidry's position of power in the Peyton family's life is why he needed the maximum sentence.
"I think that the court did reflect the sentiment of the community," she said after the hearing. "I think it was the right thing to do."
Stockstill said he and Guidry will "explore the possibility of appealing the sentence."
Guidry confessed that he provided the victim with alcohol and admitted to the sexual assault, authorities said.
The Diocese of Lafayette placed him on leave and previously said it has not paid for Guidry's legal expenses.
The Peytons also are pursuing a civil suit against Guidry and the diocese, seeking damages for pain and suffering. The suit alleges that although the diocese has paid for counseling since the allegations came to light, a senior church official threatened to halt the payments if the family sued.
Earlier this month, the Diocese of Lafayette released a list of 33 priests and four deacons credibly accused of sexual abuse. Guidry was on that list. The diocese did not offer information on what they were accused of or when the accusations occurred.
Guidry was transferred to the Avoyelles Parish Correctional Center following the hearing.