Eunice Priest Removed for Sexual Misconduct

Associated Press State & Local Wire
April 15, 2002

A priest in Eunice has been relieved of his duties because of sexual misconduct with a minor decades ago.

Bishop Edward O'Donnell announced that Father Joseph Alexander of the St. Anthony Catholic Church in Eunice, about 40 miles northwest of Lafayette, was placed on administrative leave.

The accusation dates back to when Alexander was a Benedictine Brother in the Diocese of Owensboro, Ky., according to the news release Monday from the Diocese of Lafayette.

Alexander came to the diocese in 1984 after leaving the Benedictine order and entering the priesthood, according to Kathleen Toups, spokeswoman for the diocese. Alexander's age was unavailable.

There was conflicting information about when the abuse occurred. The letter from O'Donnell stated that the misconduct occurred in the early 1960s. However, Sister Joseph Angela Boone, spokeswoman for Owensboro Diocese, said she believes it occurred in the 1970s, or early 1980s.

Sister Boone said the victim was in a seminary at the time of the alleged abuse and would have been in his mid- to late teens. He now lives in Owensboro and does not wish to be identified, she said.

The Owensboro Diocese has no record on Alexander, so Sister Boone could not say when he was in that area.

The Lafayette Diocese announced the removal of Alexander a day after O'Donnell distributed a letter about Alexander during Masses at St. Anthony.

"Father Alexander has acknowledged his involvement in the behavior of which he is accused. The person making the accusation has contacted the Diocese of Owensboro and our diocese," O'Donnell's letter said.

"Father Alexander has served with distinction in the diocese and in St. Anthony Parish, and we have no reason to believe that any abuse took place during his years of service in the diocese," O'Donnell said.

A person who answered the phone at St. Anthony hung up when called by The Associated Press.

The news release from the diocese said Monsignor Robert Romero will serve as the administrator of the Parish of St. Anthony until a new pastor can be appointed.

The news release came on the same day Pope John Paul II summoned American cardinals to the Vatican for talks next week about sex abuse scandals in the U.S. church.

In 1985, the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe of Lafayette pleaded guilty to abusing 11 boys and admitted molesting dozens more. He served 10 years in prison.


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