Abbeville attorney Anthony Fontana, who has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a St. Landry family in an alleged priest sex abuse case, is seeking a list of priests who have credible complaints against them.
Fontana is representing a person alleged to be a victim of priest Michael Guidry, who was arrested earlier this year by St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s deputies on sex abuse charges. Read more of our stories about him here and here.
Fontana filed Interrogatories and Requests for Production to Guidry and the Diocese of Lafayette in the lawsuit. Interrogatories are questions that parties in a lawsuit ask each other; Requests for Production are requests for documents. Answering them is not optional – there are deadlines and requirements that parties have to follow. If the questions aren’t answered, the court gets involved to order compliance.
In his discovery, Fontana asks Guidry and the Diocese to name all priests who have credible complaints against them since 2002, as well as all church employees who have credible complaints against them.
Fontana, who handled several lawsuits against the diocese back in the 1980s when the allegations of sexual abuse by priests first came to light, did not explain why he limited his requests to the time since 2002. However, that year is significant because it is the year that America’s bishops adopted what they called a “zero tolerance” policy toward child molestation and accused priests.
Also in his discovery, Fontana asks for the names of every person who has been a “vocation director” since 1970, as well as anyone who was given the job of “recruiting young men for the priesthood” since 1970.
The documents he requests are a copy of Guidry’s personnel file, copies of any written complaints received by the Diocese regarding any sexual abuse since 2002, and copies of the personnel files of the following priests:
- Gilbert Gauthe
- David Primeaux
- Lane Fontenot
- Robie Robichaux
- Kenneth Morvant
- Mark Broussard
- Lloyd Hebert
- Marshall Larrivere
Gauthe was convicted in 1985 of sexually abusing as many as 39 young children between 1972 and 1983; he served less than 10 years in prison. After his release from Louisiana prison, he moved to Texas where he was arrested for abusing a three-year-old. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation. He was indicted in 1997 with a previous rape in Lafayette, and served two years in jail awaiting trial; the charges were dropped. He was arrested in Texas after failing to register as a sex offender, and spent two years in jail. He’s currently living in Texas. The diocese paid out millions in settlements to his accusers.
Primeaux was a priest in the diocese until 1985; the diocese settled multiple lawsuits filed by his alleged victims. After his 2012 suicide, reports from his psychiatrist came to light that documented abuse of children from the late 1970s into the 1980s. His victims allegedly were at a Covington school and St. Joseph’s in Milton.
Fontenot was suspended from the priesthood in 1983 after allegations he sexually abused a young boy. Several lawsuits were filed against him and the diocese, alleging abuse. He pleaded guilty in 1986 to several felony counts, admitting that he molested children while serving as a counselor in a hospital. At one point, he was head of spiritual development for the diocese. The diocese paid out more than $1 million in settlements to his accusers.
Morvant, who is deceased, is the subject of a current lawsuit by more than a dozen former altar boys who say he molested them while he was pastor at St. Martin de Tours Church in St. Martinville.
Broussard was convicted in March 2016 of molesting altar boys in the Lake Charles in the late 1980s. He was no longer a priest and living in Duson when he was arrested in 2012. After his conviction he was given two life sentences plus 50 years.
Hebert, who is deceased, was suspended after being accused of molesting children in Opelousas in the 1980s. No criminal charges were ever announced in connection with this case.
Larriviere, who is deceased, was the subject of a lawsuit in the early 2000s, in which he was accused of raping two little girls at his Vermilion Parish camp in the 1960s. No criminal charges were announced against him in that case. The diocese settled cases with his accusers, too.
Two others were named but we could find no court documents that say these individuals had any allegations brought against them. It is unclear why thier names were included in the list.
We have chosen not to release those two names.