The Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux on Friday named six Catholic priests who admitted or were convicted of sexual misconduct with children as well as three others who faced civil litigation credibly accusing them of molesting minors.

Another five were credibly accused outside of a court setting of "serious and unacceptable conduct with minors, ranging from inappropriate physical contact ... to molestation," bringing the total number of names on Friday's list to 14, officials said. 

The Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux, Shelton Fabre, has sent parishioners a letter offering an apology "for the egregious sins that have taken place."

"Let me be clear: the abuse of a child by anyone is sinful, abhorrent and evil, particularly when perpetrated by one vested with the sacred trust of God’s children," Fabre's letter read. "Furthermore, any attempt to cover up these sins is even more disturbing. I apologize to all who have been harmed. It is with deep respect and profound reverence that I humbly extend this apology."

Priests Alexander Francisco and Carlos Melendez admitted to inappropriate physical contact with a minor, and Robert Melancon was convicted of raping a child, the diocese said.

Dale Guidry and Lawrence Cavell solicited children for sex, while Guidry was also accused of molesting a minor. Patrick Kujawa was convicted of child pornography possession.

Three other priests were sued over sexual abuse allegations that the church deemed credible: Etienne LeBlanc, Gerald Prinz and Bernard Schmaltz.

The five others that church officials believe were credibly accused are Claude Boudreaux, Gerard Kinane, Ramon Luce, Dac Nguyen and Daniel Poche. 

Four of the 14 — Prinz, Boudreaux, Kinane and Schmaltz — were included in a list of clergy members faced with credible allegations of sexual abuse that the Archdiocese of New Orleans released in the fall.

Four, including Boudreaux, weren't diocesan priests. Boudreaux was a Jesuit who provided the diocese with weekend assistance. Melendez was a Missionaries of Christ priest from El Salvador who participated in the diocese's Hispanic ministry. Luce was a priest from a diocese in the Philippines who served in Lockport, and Nguyen was a priest of the Society of Domus Dei who worked in Amelia. 

All of the men were stripped of their ability to perform their priestly duties by or within the diocese. Guidry, Melancon, Schmaltz and Boudreaux have already died, officials said. Nguyen's and Melancon's statuses were unknown. 

The disclosure of Houma-Thibodaux follows similar ones by church officials nationwide in light of continued revelations of previously uncovered cases of clergy abuse. The U.S. Catholic clergy abuse crisis first erupted in earnest in Boston in 2002, after which officials adopted measures to attempt to root out such behavior.

The Houma-Thibodaux diocese is the second of Louisiana's six Catholic dioceses to release the names of priests credibly accused of sexual misconduct with children. The Archdiocese of New Orleans released its list in November. 

The bishops of all five of the state's other dioceses — including those based in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Alexandria, Lake Charles and Shreveport — have all said they plan to release similar lists.

Houma-Thibodaux's diocese once formed part of the New Orleans archdiocese but was broken off in 1977.

It's now the fourth-largest of the seven dioceses in Louisiana, in terms of the number of Catholics estimated in the local population, according to diocesan websites. There are an estimated 90,000 Catholics in the diocese.

However, the diocese is much smaller than the three largest ones — New Orleans, Lafayette and Baton Rouge, respectively, which between them count more than 1 million Catholics.

Biographical details of the priests named Friday follow: 

Claude P. Boudreaux

Position: Jesuit priest, teacher

Served: Jesuit High School (1967-1973, 1976-2005)

Age: Died in 2016 at age 91

Ordained: 1955

Est. time of abuse: Unknown

Allegation received: Unknown

Details: Boudreaux was removed from ministry in 2005 after the Jesuit order deemed credible a report he sexually abused a minor decades earlier, according to The Times-Picayune. The Jesuits released few other details, citing the victim’s right to privacy. Boudreaux, a Houma native, “offered weekend assistance” in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, officials said. He was sent to live in an undisclosed location for medical treatment, then lived at the Ignatius Residence in New Orleans, according to his obituary. When that home closed in 2013, he relocated to the St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Lawrence Cavell

Position: Diocesan priest

Served: Holy Cross in Morgan City, Sacred Heart in Montegut, Saint Francis de Sales in Houma, Saint Genevieve in Thibodaux, Saint Mary in Raceland. Taught at Archbishop Chapelle High School in Metairie, Our Lady of Fatima and Saint Thomas More schools in Lafayette.

Age: 62

Ordained: 1989

Est. time of abuse: 1980’s

Allegation received: c. 2003

Details: Cavell was stripped of his ability to perform priestly duties after he admitted to church leaders that he had solicited a minor more than a decade earlier.

Alexander Francisco

Position: Diocesan priest

Served: Holy Cross in Morgan City, Saint Bernadette in Houma, Saint Bridget in Schriever, Saint Joseph in Thibodaux, Saint Thomas Aquinas in Thibodaux and Saint Lawrence in Chacahoula.

Age: 64

Ordained: 1979

Est. time of abuse: Unknown

Allegation received: Unknown

Details: Francisco was stripped of his ability to perform priestly duties years after he admitted to inappropriately touching a minor. Treated and cleared to return to ministry, Francisco served in Houma when he was suspended in 2003 under new church rules.

Dale Guidry

Position: Diocesan priest

Served: Holy Cross in Morgan City and Saint Joseph in Galliano

Age: Died at age 59 in 2013

Ordained: 1982

Est. time of abuse: Unknown

Allegation received: Unknown

Details: Guidry, a Crowley native, was stripped of his ability to perform priestly duties within the diocese after pleading guilty to online solicitation of a minor and being accused of molesting a minor.

Patrick Kujawa

Position: Diocesan priest

Served: Holy Cross in Morgan City and Saint Francis de Sales in Houma

Age: 50

Ordained: 1996

Allegation received: Unknown

Details: Parishioners bailed out Kujawa after his 2000 arrest on dozens of child pornography counts. He pleaded guilty to 15 counts, received a suspended sentence and was removed from ministry. Kujawa was busted again in 2004 with hundreds of photos and videos depicting child porn. He pleaded guilty and served 8 years in federal prison. He is now serving out a 10-year state sentence from his first conviction, due for release in 2022.

Gerard P. Kinane

Position: Diocesan priest

Served: St. Mark Catholic Church in Chalmette (1973-1978); St. Hilary Catholic Church in Houma (1981-1985); St. Luke Catholic Church in Slidell (1999-2004)

Age: 73

Ordained:1973

Est. time of abuse: 1973-75

Allegation received: 2004

Details: A man alleged in 2004 that Kinane sexually abused him in two incidents in 1973 and 1975, when he was a teen and Kinane was an associate pastor at St. Mark, according to The Times-Picayune. One incident allegedly occurred in the church and another on a trip to the Honey Island Swamp near Slidell.

Kinane was soon removed from ministry but continued to insist on his innocence in a defamation lawsuit against the archdiocese. The suit was dismissed in 2010. Houma officials said he was stripped of his abilities to perform priestly duties.

Etienne LeBlanc

Position: Diocesan priest

Served: Annunziata in Houma, Holy Cross in Morgan City, Holy Family in Dulac, Saint Eloi in Theriot, Sacred Heart in Cut Off, Saint Hilary in Mathews and St. Thomas Aquinas in Thibodaux

Age: 75

Ordained: 1971

Est. time of abuse: Early 1990s

Allegation received: 2007

Details: Jared Ribardi accused LeBlanc of raping him repeatedly over several years beginning when Ribardi was an altar boy, according to the Houma Courier. A civil lawsuit was later settled, and the diocese stripped LeBlanc’s of his ability to perform priestly duties. Authorities didn’t charge LeBlanc. Adults also allegedly claimed LeBlanc preyed on and pressured them into sexual relationships with him.

Ramon Luce

Position: Priest of the Diocese of San Pablo in the Philippines

Served: Holy Savior in Lockport

Age: Unknown

Ordained: 1995

Est. time of abuse: Unknown

Allegation received: Unknown

Details: Luce left the priesthood voluntarily, and the diocese stripped him of his priestly duties after facing unspecified but “credible allegations of serious and unacceptable conduct with minors,” church officials said.

Robert Melancon

Position: Diocesan priest

Served: Annunziata in Houma, Sacred Heart in Cut Off and Saint Genevieve in Thibodaux

Age: Died at age 82 in 2018

Ordained: 1962

Est. time of abuse: 1985 to 1991

Allegation received: Tried in 1996

Details: Melancon was convicted of raping an 8-year-old altar boy repeatedly over a period of nearly six years at the Annunziata rectory and was stripped of his priestly duties, according to officials and the Houma Courier. During his trial, he reportedly admitted to having a separate, sexual relationship with a 12-year-old in St. Genevieve Parish in Thibodaux. He died in November of natural causes while serving a life prison sentence.

Carlos Melendez

Position: Priest of the Missionaries of Christ in El Salvador

Served: Diocesan Hispanic ministry

Age: Unknown

Ordained: Unknown

Est. time of abuse: Unknown

Allegation received: Unknown

Details: Melendez was stripped of his ability to perform priestly duties within the diocese after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery of a minor. He had been accused of inappropriate physical contact with a child. Federal immigration officials returned him to his native El Salvador, though his status is unknown, according to the diocese.

Dac Nguyen

Position: Priest of the Society of Domus Dei

Served: Thanh Gia (Holy Family) in Amelia

Age: Unknown

Ordained: 1988

Est. time of abuse: Unknown

Allegation received: Unknown

Details: The diocese stripped him of his priestly duties after facing unspecified but “credible allegations of serious and unacceptable conduct with minors,” officials said.

Daniel Poche

Position: Diocesan priest

Served: Holy Cross in Morgan City, Sacred Heart in Cut Off, Saint Bernadette in Houma, Saint Francis de Sales in Houma, Saint Hilary in Mathews, and Saint Joseph in Chauvin

Age: 69

Ordained: 1978

Est. time of abuse: Unknown

Allegation received: Unknown

Details: The diocese stripped him of his priestly duties after facing unspecified but “credible allegations of serious and unacceptable conduct with minors,” according to officials.

Gerald Prinz

Position: Diocesan priest

Served: St. Gregory Barbarigo in Houma, St. Louis in Bayou Blue and Saint Francis de Sales in Houma

Age: 79

Ordained: 1968

Est. time of abuse: 1970s

Allegation received: 2002

Removed from Ministry: Officials have said Prinz left the priesthood before the late 1980s. In 2002, a man accused Prinz of raping him while the accuser was a boy in the 1970s at St. Gregory and St. Louis. Prinz was stripped of his priestly duties, diocesan officials said.

Bernard Schmaltz

Position: Archdiocesan priest

Served: St. Clement of Rome in Metairie; St. Gabriel the Archangel in Gentilly; Annunziata in Houma

Age: Died in 2010 at age 62

Ordained: 1973

Est. time of abuse: 1970s and earlier

Allegation received: 1992

Details: In a 1992 lawsuit, a man identified as John Gianoli accused Schmaltz of sexually molesting him as an eighth-grade student at St. Clement of Rome while on a fishing trip to Slidell and at a rectory during the 1973-1974 school year. A judge ruled that Gianoli waited too long to sue. Schmaltz professed his innocence but resigned his post as pastor of St. Gabriel and never returned to the priesthood. He would shift to a career selling real estate in Mississippi, according to his obituary.

Schmaltz also denied wrongdoing in the face of claims of abuse from his earlier days in the priesthood in Houma, where he served at Annunziata. The Vatican ordered him to stand a church trial, the outcomes of which are secret. He was stripped of his ability to perform his priestly duties within the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese.


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.