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Lawsuit filed against diocese, alleging molestation by Fr. Stanley Begnaud

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Posted at 5:40 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-19 19:30:28-04

The Diocese of Lafayette has been named in a lawsuit filed last month by a man who alleges he was molested by Fr. Stanley Begnaud when he was a teen.

The suit identifies the plaintiff and alleged victim as "Sam Doe," but it states that the man has identified himself to the court under seal.

In the lawsuit, which was served on the Diocese last week, the man says he was a teenage member of St. Stephen's Church in Berwick in the early 1960s, at the same time that Fr. Stanley Begnaud was a priest there.

Begnaud is on KATC's List. He was Labeled “a known pedophile” in diocese documents that became part of a lawsuit against their insurance company. No evidence of any lawsuits or criminal charges. Named by the Diocese of Lafayette in 2019 as a priest against whom a credible accusation has been made regarding sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult.

The lawsuit describes in explicit detail an incident that began with the boy confessing impure thoughts in the confessional to Begnaud, and ending with the priest allegedly molesting him during a car ride. The boy bailed out of the moving car and ran home, and surpressed the memories of the incident until last fall, when after years of therapy he remembered, the suit alleges.

The suit additionally alleges that the Charter adopted by the Church and its Bishops in 2002 waives prescription. Usually under Louisiana civil law, a plaintiff has one year from the date of the alleged incident that injured them to file a civil lawsuit against the defendant.

The suit alleges that the diocese knew Begnaud to be "a diseased pedophile" who had raped children, but didn't do anything but transfer him from church to church. The suit accuses the church of failing to remove Begnaud from ministry, and of failing to reach out to his victims. Begnaud retired and enjoyed full benefits until he died, the suit alleges.

The suit also alleges that Bishop Deshotel has issued statements asking victims to come forward, but has denied his claims in private, and kept his claims and those of other Begnaud victims "hidden and concealed."

The suit accuses the diocese of negligence and fraudulent concealment. It also says the diocese had a duty to disclose the acts of sexual abuse by its priests by reporting them to law enforcement or other authority, and didn't do so - even though the diocese allegedly knew about his crimes for more than 25 years. In failing to protect the public from Begnaud, the Diocese in effect created a public nuisance, the suit alleges.

The plaintiff alleges physical and mental damages, including continuing nightmares and psychological damage.

We've reached out to the Diocese for a response.