'Absolute Fact That Somebody Else Has Confessed'
Attorney: Confession Will Clear Priest

Associated Press, carried in KATC3
July 22, 2004

Arnaudville, La. (AP) - The lawyer for a priest who has been suspended pending an Internet pornography probe says someone else has confessed to downloading the images onto a church computer.

The Rev. Jules Arceneaux, pastor of St. Francis Regis Catholic Church in Arnaudville, was placed on administrative leave last weekend by the Diocese of Lafayette after federal investigators, acting on a tip from an informant, seized a church computer.

Richard Greene, diocese spokesman, declined to comment Thursday on statements by Arceneaux's attorney, William Goode, that there had been a confession.

Goode said Thursday he knows for "an absolute fact that somebody else has confessed ... to downloading the offensive material on the computer."

"Father Arceneaux will be found without any blame whatsoever," Goode said.

Greene said the diocese would withhold comment or action on Arceneaux's job status until the FBI has completed its investigation.

"We have to respect the investigation," Greene said.

The FBI, however, has declined so far to even confirm whether there is any investigation at all. FBI spokeswoman Sheila Thorne declined comment.

When first informed of the probe in a letter from the diocese that was read at Mass over the weekend, numerous parishioners immediately came out in support of Arceneaux and started a petition asking the diocese to reinstate him.

"All parishioners knew it was not him. Our concern is the church as a whole needs to come together now," said Kenneth Wyatt, a longtime church member.


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