Thirty-two years ago the worldwide crisis and scandal ignited in the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette when the diocesan scheme of covering up heinous sex crimes of Fr. Gilbert Gauthe extending to sodomy of scores of boys under the age of ten, a cover up that had existed for many years, was shattered when attorney J. Minos Simon broke the secrecy seal on the litigation of his child-client against the bishop and diocese.
The conduct of the Lafayette diocese through four bishops (Frey, Flynn, O’Donnell, and Jarrell) has been deplorable.
It has been established that Bishop Gerard Frey covered up child sex crimes committed by over a dozen diocesan priests.
The vicar general of the diocese, Monsignor Alexandre Larroque, remained in his powerful position, serving as vicar general to four successive bishops after he outright lied on national media as seen here – https://vimeo.com/74780302
Bishop Harry Flynn pledged transparency and then hid a massive lawsuit between the diocese and insurance companies arising out of the crisis and scandal, hiding it for nearly 20 years. Flynn was disgraced in Minnesota two years ago and resigned from boards when it was revealed he had covered up scores of cases as archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
Bishop Edward O’Donnell was ill and did not serve long but it is known he covered up for a priest who served in St. Martin Parish, admitting his crimes in guaranteeing the payment of all therapy fees for the family while the priest was shipped to a facility that specializes in the treatment of pedophile priests.
It is documented that Bishop Michael Jarrell covered up priestly child sex abuse crimes as bishop in the Houma diocese, and then in Lafayette Bishop Jarrell admitted approximately $24 million was paid out for priests who had credible complaints of sex abuse made against them and he steadfastly refused the demands of media and survivor groups to release the names of those sex criminals to the public, exhibiting the worst instincts of a bishop to cover up crimes in this era when dioceses all around the U. S. are publishing the names of priests who have been credibly abused of sex abuse (the names are being published on diocesan websites from one end of the country to the other).
Now, five bishops and 32 years later, another Lafayette diocesan priest, Fr. David Broussard of St. Bernard Parish in Breaux Bridge has been arrested by Louisiana State Police after a computer repairman found five hundred child pornography images on his computer and followed the requirements of Louisiana law in notifying the police.
New Lafayette Bishop Douglas Deshotel called a press conference and showed his newness to the region as he repeatedly mispronounced the name of Fr. Broussard’s church parish, pronouncing it differently than the locals pronounce same.
But Bishop Deshotel is no stranger to South Louisiana as he was born and raised in Basile, and he’s no stranger to clergy sex abuse as he was deeply involved in the issue in the Archdiocese of Dallas and he was severely criticized by the largest survivor organization in the world for his handling of sex abuse cases in Dallas – see http://www.snapnetwork.org/tx_victims_disappointed_in_dallas_catholic_bishop_s_promotion
To the credit of Bishop Deshotel, in his press conference he did correctly state that “Child pornography is child sex abuse.”
The children violently sexually abused are filmed or photographed and further exploited by purveyors of this heinous filth that is collected on computers by adults with demented, perverted minds who suffer a serious illness, a condition rooted in pathology that poses a great danger to children and society at large.
The most interesting thing said by Bishop Deshotel in his written statement released to media was that he invoked the church charter on the protection of children and minors that was adopted in its original form in June 2002 in a meeting of over 400 U. S. bishops in Dallas where Bishop Deshotel served, in a document approved by the Vatican. Of particular importance is that in the statement, Bishop Deshotel specifically referred to “transparency,” for the church charter does call for all bishops to be “transparent” in all matters relating to clergy sex abuse.
The Catholic Diocese of Lafayette that is the final posting in the ecclesiastical career of Bishop Douglas Deshotel has never once practiced “transparency” in matters relating to clergy sex abuse, but rather has practiced quite the opposite in consistently covering up sex crimes and protecting and shielding the criminal priests from criminal prosecution or even being identified publicly.
Bishop Jarrell once released a detailed document to Lafayette media that stated that approximately $24 million dollars had been paid for legal settlements on behalf of diocesan priests who had credible complaints of sex abuse made against them. Almost every such priest was shielded from police and prosecutors, thus they have never registered as sex offenders as obligated by law for those who are convicted.
Why is it important that a diocese practice “transparency” and release the names of those priests who have had credible complaints of sex abuse made against them?
It is important for many reasons: Clinical data strongly supports that the public revelation of the identity of a sex abuser is a key to the recovery of his victim(s). Even in cases where sex abusing priests are deceased, their identity may be important to parents in understanding the behavior of a child of theirs who was close to the priest (the child’s problems in adulthood like alcoholism, drug dependency, antisocial behavior, criminal conduct, even suicide). In cases where the former priest is alive, it is critically important to know who he is, where he is, whether he has access to or is working with children today.
Bishop Jarrell’s refusal to name these sex abusing priests for whom millions in legal settlements was paid was a violation of the church charter adopted by all U. S. bishops and approved by the Vatican, a violation of every moral and ethical standard known to man, a violation of common decency and common sense and a violation of a Christian conscience.
We will not comment on the ongoing investigation into the alleged criminal conduct of Fr. Broussard as competent police and prosecutors are in charge of that matter. We do note that there are many ways of viewing this investigation.
On KATC it was reported that a parishioner named Monica Champagne believes these are “false accusations” against Fr. Broussard. Apparently Ms. Champagne believes a computer repairman planted 500 child pornography images on Fr. Broussard’s computer and then called in the police. What possible motive would a computer repairman have to do something like this? There is no end to the denial some Catholics have about demented, perverted priests in their midst.
Another Breaux Bridge resident, Joey Broussard said, “I don’t think it’s a reflection on the church. I don’t think the church is like that,” This is an interesting comment in view of the documented facts that Mr. Broussard’s diocese has been home to over a dozen child sex abusing priests whose identity has been protected by Lafayette bishops, proving the church is like this.
What is incredibly important is something no Lafayette journalist attending Bishop Deshotel’s press conference seized upon in the question and answer session following the reading of the bishop’s prepared statement. Bishop Deshotel repeatedly invoked the word “transparency.” Does Bishop Deshotel actually believe in “transparency,” believe the faithful and the public deserve the truth? If so, then he will at once release the names of all priests who have had credible complaints of sex abuse made against them.
Will this fifth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette since the clergy sex abuse crisis and scandal began here actually do the right thing? Four successive bishops in Lafayette have covered up matters relating to clergy sex abuse.
The Catholic Diocese of Lafayette does not need more cover ups. The Catholic Diocese of Lafayette needs and deserves closure. There can only be closure if Bishop Deshotel releases the name of every priest, employee or associate of the diocese who has had a credible complaint of sex abuse lodged against him or her.
Let us watch and see whether Bishop Deshotel, a man who invoked the word “transparency” repeatedly in his press conference, a bishop who has more experience with clergy sex abuse than any bishop who has ever served in Lafayette, will simply do the right thing and release the names of sex abusing priests that his four predecessors have wrongfully shielded from the public.
Ray Mouton is the author of In God’s House, a longtime advocate for victims of clergy sex abuse and a vocal critic of the church’s handling of clergy child sex abuse who has appeared in major news journals like The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS 60 Minutes, and over 1,000 other national and international journals, as well as over 100 nonfiction books on the subject. Mouton’s introduction to the issue was in Lafayette, La., when he was asked to represent Fr. Gilbert Gauthe, one of the most notorious pedophile priests on record, and realized the diocese was guilty of covering up Gauthe’s crimes and crimes of over a dozen other priests for decades. Mouton worked in dioceses and with religious orders across the U. S. with Fr. Tom Doyle of the Vatican Embassy where they uncovered the secrets of the church that revealed over six thousand American Catholic priests have sexually abused children.