Today, 15 years after acknowledging it exists and more than five months after promising its release, the Lafayette Diocese released a list of priests and deacons the church admits have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
The Diocese list was limited to abuse of children or vulnerable adults. To read the church’s exact criteria in placing someone on the list, click here.
In January, KATC released a list of accused priests who had served in the Diocese of Lafayette. Our producers and reporters scoured thousands of pages of documents – all public records – to find support for these accusations in the form of criminal charges, civil suit settlements, diocese statements, and court case evidence. Some of those records are recent, some decades old.
“The List” can be found here. The List: Accusations of Abuse in The Diocese of Lafayette (Part 1)
We’ve compared the list released by the Diocese and “The List” created by KATC and found the following differences, as well as probable explanations for the differences.
List of priests and deacons on the Diocese list and not on KATC’s list:
Michael Benedict: The Diocese’s list indicate he was allowed to retire and never removed from ministry. KATC found no mention of Benedict in public records of civil or criminal cases.
David Anderson Coupar: KATC found no mention of Coupar in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Herbert de Launay: KATC found no mention of de Launey in public records of civil or criminal cases.
John deLeeuw: The Diocese’s list indicates he was allowed to retire. KATC was contacted by a victim about this priest, but we found no mention of deLeeuw in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Michael DesJardins: KATC found no mention of DesJardins in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Keith Anthony Potier: KATC found no mention of Potier in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Richard Rieboldt: KATC received calls from victims about this priest, but was unable to find any mention of him in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Jean Toussaint: KATC found no mention of Toussaint in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Adrian Van Hal: KATC found no mention of Van Hal in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Cornelius Van Merrianboer: KATC found no mention of Van Merrianboer in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Rosaire Veilleux: KATC found no mention of Veilleux in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Willis Broussard: KATC found no mention of Broussard in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Leonard Freyou: KATC found no mention of Freyou in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Louis Hanemann: KATC found no mention of Hanemann in public records of civil or criminal cases.
Here are a list of priests and deacons on KATC’s list that do not appear on the Diocese’s list:
- These priests wouldn’t have appeared on the Diocese’s list because they were members of the Jesuit Order, even though they served at churches within the Lafayette diocese as priests. The Diocese’s criteria states their list would not include members of other orders: Austin Park; Jody Blanchard; George Curtis; Steven Parks; Pius Lawe and Norman Rogge.
- These priests were already previously named by other Dioceses as having credible accusations lodged against them, but they also worked in the Lafayette diocese at some point: John Bostwick; Pierre Celestin Cambiaire; Joseph Pellettieri; Charles Soileau; George David Gensler.
- These priests were publicly accused, and never publicly cleared:
- Wilfrid DesRosiers: Bishop O’Donnell announced in 2002 that several victims had come forward to accuse DesRosiers of abuse during the 1960s and 1970s. The Bishop asked for anyone with similar stories to come forward, and even stationed a priest at the church to hear victims. DesRosiers was living in a nursing home at the time and denied the allegations.
- Donald Pousson: Victims came forward in 2002, claiming they had been molested by Pousson and claiming that the church new about the allegations as far back as the 1990s. The church denied that, and Pousson denied the allegations, but at the time Bishop O’Donnell said he had received the complaints and an investigation would be conducted as soon as the investigating committee was formed.
- Mark Richard: Was arrested by police who found him in a parked car in the dark with a boy. The priest admitted he gave the boy a hug but denied anything untoward happened. The district attorney refused the case, but the Bishop at the time questioned Richard’s “prudence” and said he would require the priest to undergo counseling prior to being reassigned to a church.
- Kenneth Morvant is on KATC’s list but not on the Diocese list; he has been accused by 11 people of molesting them in a lawsuit which currently is pending in federal court.
- The following priests were accused in a civil lawsuit of sexual abuse, and the Diocese settled the suit: J.M. Bourgeois; Paul Metrejean; and Grady J. Estilette.
- Bourgeois was accused of raping an altar boy; the victim repressed the memories until 2002 when a lawsuit was filed and settled by the Diocese. Metrejean was accused of sexually abusing a young college student who came to him for help with mental and emotional issues. His victim would not fit the diocese criteria of minor. The Diocese did settle with his victim. Estilette was accused of sexually abusing a young adult who came to him for help with drug addiction and emotional issues. His victim would not fit the diocese criteria of minor. The Diocese did settle with his victim.
- Three other priests are on KATC’s list but not on the Lafayette Diocese list because they didn’t serve in Lafayette but did live here or abuse children here.
- Samuel Martinez was accused in multiple lawsuits of molesting children at New Orleans and El Paso schools, and his order settled those lawsuits, paying his victims nearly $4 million in settlements. He did not work for the Diocese of Lafayette, but he was being bused to a Lafayette Diocese school in 2014 while living here in a nursing home. When KATC reported his past and his current activities in a local school, the visits were stopped.
- Mark A. Broussard was convicted in Lake Charles of raping and molesting children while serving as a priest. One of his victims testified that the abuse he suffered at Broussard’s hands occurred while Broussard was serving as a priest in Eunice. Broussard was living in Duson when he was arrested and indicted for the crimes. He is currently serving a 250-year sentence in Angola.
- John Andries was convicted in Vermilion Parish of sexual battery of a child. He was in Abbeville to visit a family who had been a member of his church in the Diocese of Alexandria – where he also had been accused of abusing a child, but simply placed on leave and given counseling.
If you’d like to see rest of our January series, the second part of our series focused on promises kept by the Diocese of Lafayette. That story can be read here: The List: Were promises kept? (Part 2)
While the diocese was still working to release its own list, our investigation also uncovered questions about recent transparency and openness in the diocese. The third part in our series can be viewed here: The List: Transparency and openness (Part 3)
More can be read here: The List: A KATC Special Report