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the first of the worst

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 17, 2007

Former Lafayette (Louisiana) Bishop Gerard Frey died Thursday at 92. He was among the most outrageously negligent of the abuser-shifting bishops and the first to watch his diocese get buggered into bankruptcy.

Frey's most notorious protegee was the multiple molester Gilbert Gauthe. Gauthe began abusing boys almost immediately after his ordination in 1971, but managed to deflect complaints until 1974, when Frey was constrained to order him into therapy. As Jason Berry tells it:

Bishop Frey has stated in deposition, "A young man stopped me and told me he had been counseling a young man who had emotional problems and in the course of counseling he'd found out that he had a sexual—homosexual contact with Gauthe."

The bishop said his source "seemed to be disturbed by the thing and I didn't want to pursue it with him." The bishop confronted Gauthe. "This was while he was in New Iberia. I talked to Gauthe, and he admitted that he had made a mistake, that he had been guilty of imprudent touches with this young man, that it was an isolated case, incident, that it would never happen again," he said.

Upon his return from therapy, Frey appointed Gauthe chaplain to the Boy Scouts and gave him a series of new parish assignments, providing opportunities for sexual predation that continued until 1980. Back to Berry:

Again in 1976, Gauthe's behavior came to the attention of other clergy. According to depositions, Msgr. Richard Mouton, the Abbeville pastor, met with two parishioners who complained that Gauthe had licked their sons on the cheeks in his camper. Mouton called Msgr. Henri Larroque, vicar general of the Lafayette Diocese, who said Gauthe should receive treatment.

Mouton confronted Gauthe. Mouton has stated Gauthe said, "I am not a homosexual." "Well," said Mouton, "whatever you are, you'll have to go for treatment."

Gauthe remained active as an Abbeville priest while seeing Dr. David Rees, a Lafayette psychiatrist, for six sessions culminating in February 1977. The diocese paid the bill. Mouton never inquired of Gauthe about his treatment. Asked why by attorney Simon in deposition, he replied, "I am trained as a priest to forget sins."

Mouton did take two prudent steps: He forbade Gauthe to have youngsters in the rectory, and he moved his bedroom to the upper floor. Meanwhile, Gauthe continued camping trips and outings with boys. He also traveled to Puerto Rico with the Biddy Basketball team.

Said Gauthe, "I am not a homosexual." Now there's a man who knew his DSM! As your Uncle Di has averred before concerning the abuse crisis, the problem is not homosexuals, but men who sodomize persons of the same gender. Bishop Frey and I weren't about to go off on a witch hunt, after all.

In 1985, Bishop Frey issued one of those fuzzy non-apologies, not asking forgiveness for his wrongs, but regretting the pain of those who underwent it.

"I deeply regret and am distressed by the suffering that has taken place because of the tragic events in the diocese over the past several years."

True, perhaps -- but it's a statement that could come equally well from the mouth of the victims.

Gauthe eventually admitted to having abused 37 minors, though the real number is unknown. Frey blithely coasted to an honorable retirement at age 75, the Diocese of Lafayette went belly up, Jason Berry wrote down the whole story in painful detail, and by 2004 Bishop Wilton Gregory pronounced the crisis "history."

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Aug. 19, 2007 2:25 PM ET USA

    What about the Swisssssss?

  • Posted by: - Aug. 18, 2007 9:55 AM ET USA

    bishop frey's demise reminds all catholics that the clerical abuse crisis could have been avoided if the us bishops had been up to the task. paying attention to the management of their own diocese would have nipped this problem in the bud, and saved us collectively $ billions. but mahony's activism on immigration, as an example, shows the bishops have not learned their lesson. they should stick to their sacristy/diocese to avert the next scandal, handling of the money.

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