Molester's Trusty Status Stirs Protest

By Mandy M. Goodnight
Daily Town Talk
November 21, 2003

A former Catholic priest convicted of molesting a teenage boy is serving as a trusty at Rapides Parish Work Release Center 1. The victim's mother is not happy about that.

The mother said it distresses her to know that a convicted child molester is not in a jail cell.

"I can't believe this," she said. "Is this what the state calls hard labor?"

John Wesley Andries, 48, was pastor of St. Margaret Catholic Church in Boyce when the allegations against him surfaced in the spring of 2001. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a two-year prison term in May.

Parole hearing set

He has a parole hearing in December and could be released as early as January, the victim's family said.

Andries was accused in June 2001 of molesting a then-16-year-old boy while staying overnight at the boy's family home in Abbeville. The priest slept in an extra bed in the boy's room.

In addition to the prison term, his sentence included two years of home probation, and it was recommended he be placed in a facility where he could receive sex-offender treatment.

It also was specified that he was to have no contact with the victim and be supervised when in contact with children.

The Abbeville case was the second allegation to be brought against Andries. He was removed from a church in Natchitoches Parish after a juvenile's family there filed a complaint.

Rapides Sheriff William Earl Hilton said Wednesday Andries is not a part of the Work Release Program and does not go out in public.

Andries works and stays at the law enforcement facility, which is manned 24-hours a day by deputies, Hilton said.

Andries was being housed in Vermillion Parish after his sentencing. Hilton said he assisted in getting Andries transferred to Rapides Parish. Andries is from Alexandria.

The victim's mother said she learned a few months ago that Andries was in Rapides Parish.

She talked with officials at two of the Rapides Parish Detention Centers and was told late last month Andries was at the Work Release Program.

She said Work Release officers told her Andries was sleeping on a cot at the facility and working in the office.

"It is ridiculous to me," the victim's mother said. "This sets him apart from the other inmates, and I think he is getting special treatment."

The sheriff said Andries gets no special visitations and is confined to the facility.

Like other trusties, Andries does not earn money, Hilton said. Prison wardens or captains recommend in-mates for trusty status.

Andries has a college education, and Hilton said that, with his educational background, Andries would be placed as a trusty anywhere he was serving.

Andries' attorney, J. Rodney Baum, said Thursday that he was personally unaware his client was a trusty, but he is not surprised.

Baum said he understands that victims' families get upset, and he understands why. For that reason, he said, that is why punishment is left up to the state.

'Letting us down'

The victim's mother said Louisiana parents need to "hope and pray" someone with a college education does not violate their children.

"The state of Louisiana is letting us down," she said.

The victim has since joined the Marines, and the family has a lawsuit pending against the Catholic Diocese of Alexandria.

The Abbeville family would like to see him in a jail cell at least at night and out of what the victim's mother called "the Holiday Inn of jails."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.