The Diocese of Baton Rouge revealed Thursday that Roman Catholic priests and a seminarian have been accused of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults at 31 church parishes across the decades. Four parishes had multiple accused priests, and two of them in Baton Rouge may have had other wolves among the flock.
The Diocese covers 5,500 square miles across 12 civil parishes along and near the Mississippi River. All but St. Helena Parish had at least one allegation of abuse in the last half of the 20th Century.
Using records provided by the Diocese, The Advocate determined that St. Aloysius in Baton Rouge, St. Thomas More in Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in St. Amant and St. Joseph Worker in Pierre Part each had two priests who were accused of abusing parishioners. The diocese said after a news conference Thursday that it was seeking more information after receiving credible complaints about a volunteer who had worked at St. Aloysius and a priest at St. Thomas More.
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Formal reports of abuse have come in over the decades and continue to trickle in even today. Last September, someone reported abuse at the hands of the Rev. David Chaloux of St. Aloysius. Another person came forward in December to accuse the Rev. David Joseph Clark of St. Thomas More.
During his news conference Thursday, Baton Rouge Bishop Michael Duca addressed the most recent allegations and handed out letters that will be read at those parishes at each Mass this weekend about the fresher allegations. Duca said the Diocese will continue to make credible abuse allegations public as the Diocese receives and investigates them.
“This is a process that we’re doing to help build trust, but to also help, hopefully, create a platform where people see we want to talk about this and hopefully victims who have not come forward come forward,” Duca said.
Secretaries at St. Aloysius, St. Thomas More and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in St. Amant declined comment when contacted Thursday. The office at St. Joseph Worker in Pierre Part could not be reached by telephone.
Duca said Thursday the Diocese received credible allegations that a church volunteer at St. Aloysius, the late Everett Gauthier Sr., sexually abused parish altar boys while volunteering at the church in the mid-1960s. At St. Thomas More, church officials are seeking possible leads on a priest who sexually abused a parishioner in the mid-1970s. The victim was not certain of the identity of the perpetrator but it is believed to be a priest, Duca said.
The current search for the answers builds on years of reported abuse at the two parishes, which both have elementary schools at them.
It was the third clergy sex-abuse list to be released by a Catholic bishop in Louisiana. And it was by far the most transparent.
The reported abuse at St. Thomas More happened in the parish’s infancy. The parish, founded in 1958, saw two priests, Clark and the Rev. Rodrique Hemond, accused of abusing parishioners in the mid- to late 1960s. The men were at the parish at about the same time and their tenures may have overlapped. Allegations against Hemond were made in 1992 and twice in 2002.
At St. Aloysius, Chaloux and the Rev. Clyde Landry were accused of sexually abusing parishioners in the 1970s and 1980s, though it isn't clear whether they were assigned to the parish at the same time. Chaloux is listed in The Advocate archives as an officiant for more than a dozen weddings at the church in 1972 and 1973.
Whether the priests faced repercussions is vague. According to The Advocate archives, Chaloux served at least one other parish, St. John the Baptist in Brusly, after leaving St. Aloysius, and returned to lay life in 1986. He died in 1990, 28 years before allegations against him came to light.
As Baton Rouge Bishop Michael Duca released the names Thursday of 37 clergy members who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse, a man who s…
Landry, who was accused of abusing children at multiple parishes between the 1970s and 1980s, was first reported to the Diocese in 1988. But he remained in the priesthood despite leaving the Diocese of Baton Rouge and worked at an infamous home in New Mexico to rehabilitate pedophile priests. His priestly faculties were not removed until 1999, and more allegations of his past abuse surfaced in 2002 and 2004.
Clark and Hemond, both of St. Thomas More, left the diocese and were returned to the supervision of their respective religious orders. Clark was reassigned by the Claretian Missionaries in 1965, and Hemond left the diocese in 1968. His victims were later referred to the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette.