Priest Will Not Be Reinstated during Investigation
By Richard Burgess
July 23, 2004
Lafayette - Church officials said Thursday that an Arnaudville priest removed during an Internet pornography investigation will not be reinstated while federal officials review the case, despite a petition from parishioners and a statement from the priest's attorney that someone else has admitted to downloading images found on a church computer.
The Rev. Jules Arceneaux, pastor of St. Francis Regis Church in Arnaudville, was removed from his post last week pending an investigation of alleged pornography found on a computer in the church's rectory.
Parishioners in the heavily Catholic community began circulating a petition to reinstate Arceneaux after they were informed of his removal at a Saturday Mass. They have garnered more than 100 signatures in support of the priest.
Monsignor Richard Greene, a diocese spokesman, said the church has no plans to consider reinstating Arceneaux until the federal investigation is complete.
"I think you can expect that until the investigation is complete, the diocese will not take any action," Greene said.
Greene said the church is not commenting on statements made this week by Arceneaux's attorney, William Goode, that a "younger person" at the church has admitted to FBI agents that he downloaded images onto the church computer.
"The diocese really won't comment on anything until the FBI gives its response," Greene said.
Goode declined to comment on where he received information about the confession but said it was a reliable source.
"I'm confident the event did occur," Goode said of the admission. "I'm hoping that will clear it up."
Arceneaux has not been charged in the case, nor has he been publicly identified as the target of an investigation.
Greene said the priest was removed per standard policy after a complaint was made about suspected pornography.
Greene has said that FBI agents seized the computer on July 13.
Federal officials have declined to comment on any aspect of the investigation or whether an investigation exists.
U.S. Attorney Donald Washington said he could "neither confirm nor deny" that federal investigators were working the case.
Goode said he has not discussed the case with federal officials.
"They are aware I'm representing Father Arceneaux, and I expect a call," he said.
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