No Remorse in Priest's Deposition

By Hugh Aynesworth
Washington Times
May 14, 1991

New Orleans - The Rev. Dino Cinel, the priest whose actions had this city in turmoil even before there was any publicity, seemed a self-assured, even arrogant man as he sat calmly and bantered with lawyers for some four hours in a deposition last August.

He often exhibited considerably less strain than some of the questioners, but the exchanges were sometimes testy and bitter. At times the plaintiff's attorneys seemed amazed at his logic.

Father Cinel showed many sides of himself, but one thing he apparently couldn't manage was remorse.

He said that in the early 1980s he and his companion Christopher V. Fontaine, then a teen-ager, smoked marijuana before having sexual relations. But the scene wasn't quite right for him, he said.

"I was very much against the idea," Father Cinel said, "not of the drugs, but him spending money on drugs."

Question: "You are not against drugs, you're against spending money; is that right?"

Father Cinel: "No, that's not what I said. In the case of Chris Fontaine, with all the needs that he has to take care of [in] his own life, I found [it] very unbecoming that he would invest whatever money he made, and especially whatever money I made available to him for other purposes, in buying drugs."

Question: "When you say, 'with all the needs that he had,' what sort of needs?"

Father Cinel: "Well, he was a young man. He should have been thinking about going to school, getting a job, getting an education, getting his life together, and instead, everything was, everything."

Question: "Were you trying to help him get his life together as a priest having anal sex with him and oral sex with him?"

Father Cinel: "No. That's a nonsensical insinuation that you are making."

Question: "No. It's a question. Were you trying to help him get his life together by having sex with him?"

Father Cinel: "Probably, considering the promiscuity in which he was living, I was the best person he could have sex with."

Question: "You believe that?"

Father Cinel: "Yes."

The priest told how he was first lured into a homosexual relationship when he was 13 or 14:

"It was only three or four encounters when I was at that age, with an older priest, an eminent priest, who was a friend of the pope."

Asked why he submitted, Father Cinel replied:

"It occurred. He was my superior. It's simply something that happens."

Later he elaborated:

"Well, he was my superior. From that point of view, he had access to me."

He said the older priest was head of "a boarding school of about 300 boys." He was there from age 11 to 16, he said, identifying the school as Instito Scalabrini in Rome.

As soon as he arrived in New Orleans in 1979, Father Cinel said, he called the District Attorney's Office to find out about the legal age of consent in Louisiana.

Question: "So you were contemplating getting involved in sexual activity with young males in New Orleans, correct?"

Father Cinel: "That's correct."

Question: "That's why you called, to find out how old did a young man have to be before it was criminal activity?"

Father Cinel: "That's correct."

Question: "And had you inquired of this in other places?"

Father Cinel: "Yes."

Asked if he had any particular boy in mind at the time, he replied:

"I had been down there [the French Quarter] and I had seen that some of them looked young and I wanted to know what the situation was here. I was new to the city. I knew San Francisco better."


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