Bishop Douglas Deshotel held a press conference today to answer questions about an alleged case of sexual abuse by a priest.
This weekend, the diocese announced that Father Michael Guidry, Pastor of St. Peter Church in Morrow and Resurrection Chapel in Whiteville, had been placed on administrative leave while allegations of sexual abuse against Guidry are investigated. To read our story about the announcement, click here.
Today, Deshotel said the abuse was reported by the parents of the alleged victim and their current pastor in Ville Platte. The abuse allegedly occurred while the victim was a minor; he is now an adult, the Bishop said. The alleged abuse happened since Guidry became pastor in Morrow, the Bishop said.
Deshotel said that he checked Guidry’s file and there have been no other complaints against him during his nearly 50 years as a priest.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating the allegations, the Bishop said. He encouraged anyone with information about any alleged abuse to report it.
"We encourage anyone to notify us or the civil authorities if they have knowledge of or reason to believe abuse has occurred," Deshotel said.
During the press conference, we asked the Bishop if he would be identifying the priests known to have abused children while practicing in his diocese in the past. Several years ago, a national advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse by priests asked the Diocese to release the names of the 15 priests the diocese has acknowledged offended against minors from 1950 to 1984.
At that time, the request was denied. When asked about it today, Deshotel said he did not know about a list.
"I don’t know that information, I do know that no priest who has been credibly accused is practicing in the Diocese of Lafayette, or is practicing anywhere else," he said. "I don’t know. I would have to find out."
Deshotel said he would find out, and added a reassurance.
"If someone has been credibly accused, he will not be practicing as a priest in our diocese," Deshotel said.
We’ve reached out to the St. Landry Sheriff for an update on the criminal investigation; the sheriff’s office confirmed the investigation but said no additional details would be released at this time.
Deshotel said the Diocese awaits the outcome of that investigation.
"First we let the civil authorities determine through their investigation exactly what happened and if that was criminal or not," Deshotel said. "If not, he can be restored and his good name restored as well. If so, there of course are civil penalties and diocesan penalties as well."